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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2002 Sep 24;215(1):69-74.

Chlamydia pneumoniae infections prevent the programmed cell death on THP-1 cell line.

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Dipartimento di Medicina Sperimentale, Sezione di Microbiologia e Microbiologia Clinica, Facoltà di Medicina e Chirurgia, Seconda Università degli Studi di Napoli, Via Santa Maria di Costantinopoli 16, 80138, Naples, Italy.


Chlamydia pneumoniae is an obligate intracellular bacterium which frequently causes airway infection in humans and has been implicated in chronic inflammatory disease and atherosclerosis. Here we show that infection with C. pneumoniae protects THP-1 cells against the apoptosis which spontaneously occurs in macrophages in the absence of an activation signal. Analysis by flow cytometry at different post-infection times revealed that 50+/-7% of THP-1 cells were apoptotic at 48 h after onset of the experiments, whereas C. pneumoniae-infected cultures (multiplicity of infection, MOI=30) displayed only 18+/-4% of cells in apoptosis. At MOI=20 and MOI=10 the cells susceptible to apoptosis at 48 h were 28+/-5% and 35+/-6% respectively. Moreover, the results show that heat-inactivated bacteria do not give significant protection against apoptosis, even at higher MOI (MOI=30), while UV-treated Chlamydia did provide a degree of protection against apoptosis. These data suggest that the anti-apoptotic effect of C. pneumoniae requires a heat-labile component released during infection, and that the effect is not lipopolysaccharide-dependent.

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