Ankylosing Spondylitis

  • Désirée Van der Heijde


Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the sacroiliac joints and spine that may be associated with a variety of extraspinal lesions involving the eye, bowel, and heart. AS usually begins in young adulthood. The natural history of AS involves progressive stiffening of the spine, with ankylosis (fusion of some or all spinal joints) occurring after some years of disease in about two thirds of the patients. Patients with longstanding severe disease are at increased risk of premature death, but overall the life span of individuals with AS appears to be normal. AS shares many features with the arthritides associated with psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, and reactive arthritis. Together, these conditions comprise the spondyloarthritis family and are sometimes termed the seronegative spondyloarthropathies (“seronegative” because they are not associated with rheumatoid factor) (1). Typical spondylitis may be present in each of the other spondyloarthritides.


Major Histocompatibility Complex Ankylose Spondylitis Major Histocompatibility Complex Class Human Leukocyte Antigen Class Sacroiliac Joint 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Désirée Van der Heijde
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of RheumatologyUniversity Hospital MaastrichtThe Netherlands

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