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Infect Immun. 2001 Oct;69(10):6240-7.

Immunization with the Chlamydia trachomatis mouse pneumonitis major outer membrane protein can elicit a protective immune response against a genital challenge.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, California 92697-4800, USA.


Infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic abdominal pain are frequent complications of genital infections with Chlamydia trachomatis. In an attempt to produce a vaccine to protect against this pathogen we purified and refolded the C. trachomatis mouse pneumonitis (MoPn) major outer membrane protein (MOMP). This preparation, mixed with Freund's adjuvant using vortexing or sonication, was used to immunize BALB/c mice that were subsequently challenged in the upper genital tract. Vaginal cultures were taken on a weekly basis, and mice were mated 6 weeks after the challenge. Gels of the vortexed MOMP showed a predominant band with a molecular size of 62 kDa and weaker bands at 42 and 132 kDa, while the sonicated MOMP had a single band with a molecular size of 42 kDa. Following immunization with these two preparations, strong humoral and cell-mediated immune responses were detected in the mice inoculated with the vortexed MOMP. On the other hand, mice immunized with the sonicated MOMP had a strong humoral immune response but a relatively weak cell-mediated immune response, as determined by a T-cell lymphoproliferative assay and level of cytokine production by splenocytes. Vaginal cultures showed that the mice immunized with the vortexed MOMP were significantly protected, as determined by a decrease in the number of animals with positive cultures, the length of time the mice shed viable organisms, and the number of inclusion-forming units recovered per mouse. Animals immunized with the sonicated MOMP, on the other hand, showed a weaker level of protection based on the same three parameters. After mating, the number of fertile animals and number of embryos per mouse were significantly higher for the mice immunized with vortexed MOMP, but not for the mice immunized with sonicated MOMP, compared to those of the control groups. In conclusion, immunization with a purified and refolded preparation of the C. trachomatis MoPn MOMP confers a significant level of protection in mice against a genital challenge.

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