JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Arthralgia and blood culture-negative endocarditis in middle Age Men suggest tropheryma whipplei infection: report of two cases and review of the literature.

BACKGROUND: Whipple's disease is a rare, often multisystemic chronic infectious disease caused by the rod-shaped bacterium Tropheryma whipplei. Very rarely the heart is involved in the process of the disease, leading to culture-negative infective endocarditis. Up to 20 % of all infective endocarditis are blood culture-negative and therefore a diagnostic challenge. We present two unusual cases of culture-negative infective endocarditis encountered in two different patients with prior history of arthralgia. A history of rheumatic arthritis or even a transient arthralgia should put Tropheryma whipplei on the top of differentials in patients of this age group presenting with culture-negative infective endocarditis, especially in cases of therapy resistance to antirheumatic agents.

CASE PRESENTATION: The first patient was a 55 year-old Caucasian male with culture-negative Whipple-related adhesive pericarditis and endocarditis of the aortic valve. Importantly, the patient reported a 15-year history of therapy resistant sero-negative migratory polyarthritis. Aortic valve endocarditis developed during treatment with tocilizumab. The second patient was a 65-year-old male patient with no prior history of the classic Whipple's disease who presented with a culture-negative aortic valve endocarditis. His past medical history revealed episodes of transient arthralgia, which he was not treated for however, due to the self-limiting nature of the symptoms. Both patients underwent aortic valve replacement surgery. During surgery, pericardectomy was necessary in the first patient due to adhesive pericarditis. Post surgery both patients were started on long-term treatment with trimetoprim-sulfamethoxazol. At 1-year follow-up of both patients, echocardiographic and clinical assessment revealed no signs of persistent infection. Both men reported negative history of arthralgia during the one year period post surgery.

CONCLUSION: Tropheryma whipplei culture negative-infective endocarditis is an emerging clinical entity, predominantly found in middle-aged and older men with a history of arthralgia. These data highlight the need for ruling out Whipple's disease in patients with a history of arthralgia prior to initiation of biological agents in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. There is also a need to assess for Tropheryma whipplei in all patients with culture- negative infective endocarditis.

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