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Immunology. 2002 Feb;105(2):213-21.

Fc receptor regulation of protective immunity against Chlamydia trachomatis.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Morehouse School of Medicine, 720 Westview Drive SW, Atlanta, GA 30320, USA.


The prevailing paradigm for designing potentially efficacious vaccines against the obligate intracellular bacterium, Chlamydia trachomatis, advocates regimens capable of inducing a mucosal antigen-specific T helper type 1 (Th1) response. However, recent reports indicate that rapid and efficient clearance of a secondary infection also requires certain B-cell functions. We investigated the hypothesis that Fc receptor (FcR)-mediated antibody effector mechanisms are important B-cell-related functions involved in controlling a chlamydial genital reinfection. Microbiological analysis of genital chlamydial infection in FcR knockout (FcRKO) mice lacking the activatory FcgammaRI (CD64) and FcRgammaIII (CD16), as well as the inhibitory FcgammaRIIB1 (CD32), revealed a greater intensity of secondary infection (i.e. bacterial shedding) in FcRminus sign/minus sign as compared to FcR+/+ mice; however, the course of the primary infection was indistinguishable in both animals. Pathologically, FcRKO mice suffered greater ascending infection than immunocompetent wild-type (WT) mice after a secondary infection. Immunological evaluation indicated that the presence of specific anti-chlamydial antibodies enhanced chlamydial antigen presentation for induction of a Th1 response by FcR+/+, but not FcRminus sign/minus sign, antigen-presenting cells. In addition, specific anti-chlamydial antibodies augmented both macrophage killing of infected epithelial cells by antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) and macrophage inhibition of productive growth of chlamydiae in co-cultures. These results indicate that B cells participate in anti-chlamydial immunity via FcR-mediated effector functions of antibodies, which are operative during reinfections. Such effector functions include ADCC, and possibly enhanced uptake, processing and presentation of chlamydial antigens for rapid induction of a Th1 response, all facilitating the early clearance of an infection. These findings suggest that a future anti-chlamydial vaccine should elicit both humoral and T-cell-mediated immune responses for optimal memory response and vaccine efficacy.

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