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Sex Transm Dis. 1999 Mar;26(3):160-5.

Gonococcal infection of human fallopian tube mucosa in organ culture: relationship of mucosal tissue TNF-alpha concentration to sloughing of ciliated cells.

Author information

1
Center for Infectious Diseases, Diagnostic Microbiology and Immunology, Department of Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City 84132, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:

An experimental model consisting of gonococcal infection of human fallopian tube mucosa in organ culture has proven useful in studying the molecular pathogenesis of acute gonococcal salpingitis and postsalpingitis sequelae. Gonococcal infection of human fallopian tube mucosa in organ culture results in the sloughing of ciliated epithelial cells from the mucosa. This damage to the mucosa can be quantified on fallopian tube pieces by an assay of the percent of the periphery that has ciliary activity (PPCA) remaining at specific time points after infection. Although assay of the PPCA has been quite valuable, it is labor-intensive, somewhat subjective, and requires that the observers have training and experience. A more practical assay for genital mucosal damage is desirable for further investigations that employ the fallopian tube experimental model. Gonococcal infection of fallopian tube mucosa in organ culture also results in the production of easily quantified tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) by the mucosa. Furthermore, treatment of the organ cultures with recombinant human TNF-alpha (rHuTNFalpha) alone also causes sloughing of ciliated cells from the mucosa. These findings strongly suggest that TNF-alpha is a mediator of the mucosal damage that attends gonococcal infection.

GOALS OF THE STUDY:

To determine: (1) whether the PPCA values and the TNF-alpha concentrations in fallopian tube mucosal tissues correlate closely enough to allow prediction of the PPCA from a measurement of the mucosal tissue TNF-alpha concentration; and (2) whether the correlation of the TNF-alpha mucosal tissue concentration with the sloughing of ciliated cells (measured by the PPCA) supports the hypothesis that induction of TNF-alpha by gonococcal infection, with resultant sloughing of ciliated cells, is likely to be a major pathogenic mechanism of gonococcal salpingitis and might mediate postsalpingitis infertility and ectopic pregnancy.

STUDY DESIGN:

A metaanalysis was performed on studies from three research groups (two laboratories in the United States and one in the United Kingdom, using identical techniques for quantifying the PPCA, TNF-alpha, or both.

RESULTS:

There was a close and statistically significant correlation between the TNF-alpha mucosal tissue concentration and the proportion of ciliated cells lost from the mucosa as measured by the PPCA (r = 0.95, p < 0.001). Therefore, as the mucosal tissue concentration of endogenous TNF-alpha increased, the loss of ciliated cells from the epithelium increased proportionately.

CONCLUSIONS:

During gonococcal infection of human fallopian tube mucosa in organ culture, the mucosal tissue concentration of TNF-alpha can be used to predict the PPCA, and therefore, the extent of mucosal damage. This finding should facilitate studies of the molecular pathogenesis of infectious diseases involving human genital mucosa. Further, the close correlation of mucosal TNF-alpha concentration with genital mucosal damage, evaluated by the PPCA, supports the hypothesis that induction of the proinflammatory cytokine, TNF-alpha, by gonococcal infection, with resultant inflammation and sloughing of ciliated cells, is an important pathogenic mechanism of gonococcal salpingitis and may mediate postsalpingitis infertility and ectopic pregnancy as well.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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