A middle-aged man was found to have Whipple's disease after episodes of nephritis and arthralgia. While on antibiotic therapy, and in the absence of worsening of the histologic appearances of the jejunum, aortic valve endocarditis developed, presumably due to Whipple's disease. Observations during the course of his illness included the isolation of Corynebacterium bovis from an inguinal lymph node, and detection of circulating antibodies against material within the characteristic abnormal macrophages present in the gastrointestinal mucosa. This antigen-antibody reaction was specifically blocked by the monosaccharide rhamnose, a component of the polysaccharide surface coat of many bacteria, including C. bovis.
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