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Cell Microbiol. 2001 Jun;3(6):427-37.

Low iron availability modulates the course of Chlamydia pneumoniae infection.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Central Microscopy Unit, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Schumannstrasse 21/22, D-10117 Berlin, Germany.


Chlamydiae are obligate intracellular bacteria residing exclusively in host cell vesicles termed inclusions. We have investigated the effects of deferoxamine mesylate (DAM)-induced iron deficiency on the growth of Chlamydia pneumoniae and Chlamydia trachomatis serovar L2. In epithelial cells subjected to iron starvation and infected with either C. pneumoniae or C. trachomatis L2, small inclusions were formed, and the infectivity of chlamydial progeny was impaired. Moreover, for C. trachomatis L2, we observed a delay in homotypic fusion of inclusions. The inhibitory effects of DAM were reversed by adding exogenous iron-saturated transferrin, which restored the production of infectious chlamydiae. Electron microscopy examination of iron-deprived specimens revealed that the small inclusions contained reduced numbers of C. pneumoniae that were mostly reticulate bodies. We have previously reported specific accumulation of transferrin receptors (TfRs) around C. pneumoniae inclusions within cells grown under normal conditions. Using confocal and electron microscopy, we show here a remarkable increase in the amount of TfRs surrounding the inclusions in iron-starved cultures. It has been shown that iron is an essential factor in the growth and survival of C. trachomatis. Here, we postulate that, for C. pneumoniae also, iron is an indispensable element and that Chlamydia may use iron transport pathways of the host by attracting TfR to the phagosome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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