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Circulation. 2001 Mar 27;103(12):1613-7.

Distribution of Chlamydia pneumoniae in the human arterial system and its relation to the local amount of atherosclerosis within the individual.

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Department of Cardiology, University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands.



Chlamydia pneumoniae has been suggested to play a role in the origin of atherosclerosis. We studied the prevalence of C pneumoniae at multiple locations in the arterial system within the same individual. Studying the association between atherosclerosis and C pneumoniae within the individual excludes confounding by interindividual variability.


Postmortem, the presence in the intima/plaque and media of C pneumoniae membrane protein was determined by use of a C pneumoniae-specific monoclonal antibody. In 24 individuals, 33 arterial locations were studied (n=738 segments). Area stenosis was determined in adjacent cross sections. In all individuals, immunostaining of C pneumoniae was observed in >/=1 artery. The highest prevalences were observed in the abdominal aorta (67%), internal and common iliac arteries (41%), and coronary arteries (33%). The lowest prevalences were observed in the radial (0%) and cerebral (2%) arteries. Within the individual, area stenosis was larger in cross sections with immunoreactivity compared with cross sections without immunoreactivity (31.0+/-11.9% versus 14.3+/-6.1%, respectively; P:<0.001). In the individual, immunoreactivity was observed in 15+/-10% of the arteries (range, 3% to 45%). Between individuals, the percentage of arteries with immunoreactivity to C pneumoniae was associated with the average area stenosis throughout the arterial system (r(2)=0.56, P:<0.001).


C pneumoniae was mostly observed at locations that are related to clinically relevant features. Within the individual, the distribution of C pneumoniae is associated with the distribution of atherosclerosis. The role of the microorganism in atherosclerotic disease remains to be elucidated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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