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J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2001 Sep;15(5):405-9.

Electron microscopic evidence of persistent chlamydial infection following treatment.

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Department of Microbiology, Central Institute of Skin and Venereal Diseases, Moscow, Russia.


Chlamydia trachomatis infections of the female and male genital tracts are often asymptomatic and, thus, tend to become persistent. In the persistent state the typical Chlamydia life cycle is arrested and standard antibiotic regimens do not always eradicate this infection. We sought to relate treatment failures in men and women with persistent chlamydial genital tract infections to electron microscopic evidence of chlamydial persistence and with atypical morphological forms of the organism. Of 16 patients with chlamydial persistence following azithromycin treatment, morphological variants of this organism were observed by electron microscopy from one endocervical sample and one male urethral sample. We document the presence of intracellular inclusions containing only reticulate bodies, extracellular monomembrane and polymembrane phagosomes containing elementary bodies and reticulate bodies with abnormal outer membranes in the process of dividing extracellularly. These observations parallel previous in vitro studies of chlamydial persistence under adverse conditions. This capacity of C. trachomatis to undergo atypical morphological alterations in vivo may contribute to its persistence and relative resistance to antibiotics.

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[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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