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Microbes Infect. 2013 Mar;15(3):192-200. doi: 10.1016/j.micinf.2012.11.006. Epub 2012 Nov 20.

Chlamydophila pneumoniae in human immortal Jurkat cells and primary lymphocytes uncontrolled by interferon-γ.

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Department of Medical Laboratory Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, Hokkaido University, Nishi-5 Kita-12 Jo, Kita-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0812, Japan.


Lymphocytes are a potential host cell for Chlamydophila pneumoniae, although why the bacteria must hide in lymphocytes remains unknown. Meanwhile, interferon (IFN)-γ is a crucial factor for eliminating chlamydiae from infected cells through indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) expression, resulting in depletion of tryptophan. We therefore assessed if lymphocytes could work as a shelter for the bacteria to escape IFN-γ. C. pneumoniae grew normally in human lymphoid Jurkat cells, even in the presence of IFN-γ or under stimulation with phorbol myristate acetate plus ionomycin. Although Jurkat cells expressed IFN-γ receptor CD119, their lack of IDO expression was confirmed by RT-PCR and western blotting. Also, C. pneumoniae survived in enriched human peripheral blood lymphocytes, even in the presence of IFN-γ. Furthermore, C. pneumoniae in spleen cells obtained from IFN-γ knockout mice with C57BL/6 background was maintained in a similar way to wild-type mice, supporting a minimal role of IFN-γ-related response for eliminating C. pneumoniae from lymphocytes. Thus, we concluded that IFN-γ did not remove C. pneumoniae from lymphocytes, possibly providing a shelter for C. pneumoniae to escape from the innate immune response, which has direct clinical significance.

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