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Atherosclerosis. 2008 Jul;199(1):154-61. Epub 2007 Oct 29.

Evidence for persistent Chlamydia pneumoniae infection of human coronary atheromas.

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Institute of Veterinary Pathology, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 268, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland.


To date, structures representing developmental stages of Chlamydia pneumoniae, especially persistent forms of this intracellular bacteria, have not been described in human atherosclerotic tissues using specific antibody labeling and transmission electron microscopy. Staining of atherosclerotic tissue from five patients seeking heart transplantation with gold-labeled antibodies specific for up-regulated chlamydial heat shock proteins, GroEL and GroES, and visualisation via transmission electron microscopy revealed intracellular, atypical, round to oval structures of variable diameter. These structures resembled reticulate bodies of Chlamydia, were surrounded by membranes and were located within smooth muscle cells, macrophages or fibroblasts. By using double immunogold electron microscopy technique (GroEL and GroES in combination with chlamydial LPS/MOMP antibodies), we demonstrated these structures were of chlamydial origin. In the current study, we demonstrated the presence of aberrant bodies of C. pneumoniae in vivo in archival coronary atheromatous heart tissues by the immunogold electron microscopy technique.

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