University of Oulu

Susceptibility of human macrophages to Chlamydia pneumoniae infection in vitro

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Author: Poikonen, Kari1,2
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Diagnostics, Department of Medical Microbiology
2National Institute for Health and Welfare, Department of Child and Adolescent Health an Welfare Unit
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2010
Publish Date: 2010-05-18
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Oulu for public defence in the Auditorium of Kastelli Research Centre (Aapistie 1), on 28 May 2010, at 12 noon
Reviewer: Docent Sampsa Matikainen
Professor Seppo Nikkari


Chlamydia pneumoniae is an obligate intracellular gram-negative bacterium, which causes respiratory infections in humans and may participate in the development of chronic diseases like atherosclerosis, chronic obstructive lung disease, adult-onset asthma and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. It can infect various cell types, e.g. vascular endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells and monocyte-derived macrophages in vitro. It has been speculated that circulating macrophages disseminate the infection in the body, and that genetically susceptible individuals become chronically infected.

Quantification of C. pneumoniae growth inside cultured cells is needed when studying e.g. the effect of drugs or host cell factors on infectivity and replication. Conventionally this has been done by immunofluorescence staining and microscopic counting of chlamydial inclusions. However, this method is usable only if the cell numbers do not fluctuate in cell culture vials and the inclusions are uniform. In macrophages, inclusions are often aberrant, their sizes vary and multiple inclusions are also seen. Therefore we developed a new method based on the real-time PCR quantification of chlamydial genomes adjusted to the number of human genomes and used it to quantify the exact amounts of C. pneumoniae in infected cells.

The susceptibility of monocyte-macrophages from healthy individuals to C. pneumoniae infection in vitro was studied first. Intracellular growth of C. pneumoniae was used as an indicator of susceptibility to infection, and it was compared to serum levels of CRP, soluble CD14, human HSP-IgG, human HSP-IgA, C. pneumoniae IgG and IgA antibodies. The growth of C. pneumoniae in infected macrophages was highly variable, ranging from 0 to 638 chlamydial genomes per human genome. C. pneumoniae growth associated positively with serum C. pneumoniae IgA (titer ≥10) and hHSP-IgG and negatively with soluble CD14 concentration. The association between chlamydial IgA antibodies, hHSP-IgG and C. pneumoniae growth was statistically significant only among men. Age did not correlate with the growth. Therefore we hypothesize that persons whose macrophages cannot restrict the growth of C. pneumoniae are more prone to chronic infection by this agent.

In the next study, we evaluated the effects of innate immunity genes CD14 -260 C>T, TLR2 Arg753Gln, TLR4 Asp299Gly, LBP Phe436Leu and IL-6 -174 G>C polymorphisms on C. pneumoniae growth in human macrophages in vitro. The growth of C. pneumoniae was highest in CD14 -260 C>T TT genotype cells and the difference to CC or CT genotype was statistically significant. The G-allele of the IL6 -174 G>C polymorphism had a positive influence on chlamydial growth; the difference was statistically significant only between CC and GC genotypes. TLR2 Arg753Gln, TLR4 Asp299Gly, LBP Phe436Leu polymorphisms showed no effect on chlamydial growth.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. D, Medica
ISSN-E: 1796-2234
ISBN: 978-951-42-6162-6
ISBN Print: 978-951-42-6161-9
Issue: 1050
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2010. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.