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January 14, 1974

Mycoplasmas in Arthritis and Urethritis

JAMA. 1974;227(2):194. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230150046014

During the 1930s the idea that a distant focus of infection, possibly streptococcal, held considerable favor as a cause for systemic diseases, notably rheumatoid arthritis. To no avail, many patients sacrificed tonsils and teeth in the cause of physicians who held that view. In the 1940s pleuropneumonia-like organisms (PPLO), now better known as mycoplasmas, came into vogue as possible infectious agents in rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases of unknown etiology.1,2 Since then, conflicting reports on that subject have appeared.

Mardh et al3 summarized the results of search by nine author groups for mycoplasmas in the synovial fluid of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients and recounted their own experience with 57 patients. In the earlier studies mycoplasmas had been isolated from the joints of RA patients in 95 of 195 cases. However, experiences varied extremely, ranging from 100% success to complete failure of isolation. Mardh et al were able to