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J Infect Dis. 2000 Jun;181 Suppl 3:S437-40.

Chlamydia pneumoniae in atherosclerotic tissue.

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Department of Genitourinary Medicine and Communicable Diseases, Imperial College School of Medicine, St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington, London W2 1NY, UK.


The majority of almost 30 publications from 1992 to 1999 describe Chlamydia pneumoniae organisms in atherosclerotic lesions of various major arteries. In the first study in the United Kingdom, C. pneumoniae was found in the aorta and femoral and iliac arteries. In a subsequent study, the organism was detected in arteries of subjects as young as 15 years. In a collaborative investigation, 71% of atheromatous arteries taken at autopsy from white South African subjects were C. pneumoniae positive compared with 9% of nonatheromatous arteries. Of interest, the organisms were detected in 67% of vessels that showed only early atherosclerotic lesions (fatty streaks). C. pneumoniae was also found in the ruptured coronary artery plaque of a black South African who died of myocardial infarction, a rare event. The presence of C. pneumoniae organisms within foam and smooth muscle cells of atherosclerotic plaques is beyond doubt, but their role in atherosclerosis remains enigmatic.

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