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Circulation. 2000 Jun 6;101(22):2568-71.

Relationship of Chlamydia pneumoniae infection to severity of human coronary atherosclerosis.

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Unit of Forensic Medicine, Department of Surgery, Unit of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology, University of Uppsala, Uppsala, Sweden.



Infection with Chlamydia pneumoniae has been postulated to play a pathogenic role in atherosclerosis. We examined the role of infection with C pneumoniae in relation to the extent of coronary atherosclerosis.


Coronary atherosclerosis was graded microscopically on a postmortem basis in a blinded fashion in 60 subjects as mild (n=18) or severe (n=42) atherosclerosis. Serum antibodies to C pneumoniae were measured by microimmunofluorescence test. Paraffin-embedded coronary artery specimens were examined for the presence of chlamydia by use of a genus-specific direct immunofluorescence monoclonal antibody. Frozen coronary artery specimens were examined by immunoperoxidase for the presence of C pneumoniae by use of a specific monoclonal antibody RR-402. Direct immunofluorescence was reactive in 86% of cases with severe atherosclerosis but in only 6% of cases with mild atherosclerosis (P<0.01), whereas immunoperoxidase staining was reactive in 80% and 38% of cases with severe and mild atherosclerosis, respectively (P<0. 01). Elevated IgG and IgA levels against C pneumoniae were not different in cases with severe and mild atherosclerosis (61% and 30% for severe atherosclerosis and 67% and 42% for mild atherosclerosis, respectively).


This study supports the hypothesis that intracellular infection with C pneumoniae may relate to the severity of atherosclerosis in some subjects. Serum antibody titers against C pneumoniae do not differentiate between severe and mild atherosclerosis.

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