What is the pathophysiology of viral arthritis?

Updated: Nov 12, 2019
  • Author: Rabea Ahmed Khouqeer, MD, FRCPC, FAAAAI; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Viruses can cause infection or act as cofactors in the development of rheumatic diseases. Viral infection depends on both host and viral factors. Key host factors include age, sex, genetic background, infection history, and immune response. Key viral factors include mode of host entry, tissue tropism, replication, effects of cytokines, ability to establish persistent or latent viral infections, and alterations of host antigens. Infected cells can undergo apoptosis (programmed cell death).

The immune complexes from an antibody response can be deposited at sites of viral infection or in the synovium. Virus-induced autoimmunity, polyclonal B-cell activation, and immunodeficiency may result in opportunistic infection, largely because of an inability of the immune system to eliminate the virus (eg, HIV, human T-lymphotropic virus [HTLV]-1, or hepatitis C virus [HCV]). Molecular mimicry may cause abnormal self-reactivity by altering immune tolerance. [2]

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