Prior studies have suggested an association of human retrovirus 5 with rheumatoid arthritis. The purpose of this study was to determine if human retrovirus-5 proviral DNA is present in synovial tissue and blood specimens from patients with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, or those without joint disease.
Synovial tissue and whole blood from 75 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, 75 patients with osteoarthritis, and 50 patients without a primary arthritis diagnosis were assayed by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using primers that amplify a 186-bp fragment of human retrovirus-5 proviral DNA.
A total of 200 tissue specimens, 200 mononuclear cells, and 196 of 200 granulocyte specimens tested negative for human retrovirus-5 proviral DNA. No association between human retrovirus 5 and rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis (P = 0.516) was identified. Granulocyte specimens from 4 patients, 2 with rheumatoid arthritis and 2 with osteoarthritis, yielded a low positive human retrovirus-5 proviral DNA signal (83–1,365 copies of human retrovirus-5 proviral DNA/ml blood).
Contrary to prior reports, we did not find an association between human retrovirus 5 and rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis using a real-time PCR assay. Our findings are consistent with the recent finding that human retrovirus 5 is actually rabbit endogenous retrovirus H.