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FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2004 Jul 1;41(3):197-203.

Alveolar epithelial cells type II are major target cells for C. pneumoniae in chronic but not in acute respiratory infection.

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Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, University of Luebeck, Ratzeburger Allee 160, 23538, Germany.


Pulmonary presence of Chlamydia pneumoniae is associated with acute and chronic infections. We show that unapparent chlamydial infection in four out of 31 chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients (12.9%) is characterized by a significant increase in infected alveolar epithelial cells type II (18.2 +/- 3.5% vs. 2.3 +/- 0.9; IHC/ISH) compared to a newly established model of acute chlamydial infection (ACIM) in vital lung specimens from pulmonary lobectomy. Expression of cHSP60 demonstrated pathogen viability and virulence in the ACIM. We conclude that target cells differ in acute and chronic chlamydial infection and suggest the ACIM as a novel tool to analyze the host-pathogen-interactions in acute respiratory infections.

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