Spondyloarthropathies (SpAs), including ankylosing spondylitis, are chronic inflammatory diseases of the axial skeleton. Genomic scans of SpA families revealed the overwhelming complexity of the disease, which appears to be under the control of over 20 chromosome loci, including the major SpA gene HLA-B27 within class I of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). Animal models confirmed the primary role of MHC in SpA susceptibility and supported the hypothesis that certain enterobacterial infections can trigger SpA. Immunization of mice with proteoglycan aggrecan also can provoke SpA, thus providing the opportunity to study genetic and clinical details of the disease initiation.
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