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Microbiol Res. 2006;161(1):9-19. Epub 2005 Jun 1.

Chlamydia trachomatis persistence: an update.

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  • 1Département de microbiologie clinique, Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, Hôtel-Dieu, 3840 rue St-Urbain, Montréal, Québec H2W 1T8, Canada.


Chlamydial persistence is a reversible state generated during conditions deleterious to growth. In persistence, Chlamydia trachomatis remains viable but atypical, with an enlarged, aberrant form and quiescent metabolism. It favours chronic chlamydiosis, leading to serious sequelae. Although the mechanism of persistence formation is still unknown, more reliable molecular approaches tend to confirm that its occurs in vivo, even lasting 3 years. One approach consists of identifying unprocessed rRNA found only in viable Chlamydia, when infection is not apparent. Another approach, referring to the fact that immunity is type-specific, consists of showing by genotyping that multiple recurrences are due to the same genovar. At the molecular level, persistence is characterized by increased expression of ct755, one of the three heat shock protein (hsp60)-coding genes. In addition, chromosomal replication occurs continuously, and cell division is blocked possibly due to the repression of genes such as ftsW and amiA. At the immunological level, persistence reveals the failure of host-defence mechanisms because of reduced or suppressed pro-inflammatory or cytotoxic responses.

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