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J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2013 Jan-Mar;27(1):155-64.

Could past Chlamydial vascular infection promote the dissemination of Chlamydia pneumoniae to the brain?

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Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, Sapienza University, Rome, Italy.


Chlamydia pneumoniae, a pathogen responsible for respiratory tract infections, has been associated with atherosclerosis which, along with hypertension, hyperlipidemia, cardiovascular and/or cerebrovascular ischemia and stroke, is a risk factor for chronic neurological disorders. Several studies have demonstrated the ability of C. pneumoniae to disseminate from lungs to arteries through peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Once inside the vascular tissue, C. pneumoniae infection may disseminate via peripheral monocytes to the brain over the intact blood-brain barrier, and contribute to the development of chronic neurological disorders. The aim of our study was to evaluate whether past C. pneumoniae vascular infection may promote the dissemination of this microorganism to the brain, therefore we investigated the presence of C. pneumoniae in post-mortem brain tissue specimens of patients with past chlamydial vascular infection. Seventy six post-mortem brain tissue specimens from 19 patients with past chlamydial vascular infection were investigated for the presence of C. pneumoniae by immunohistochemistry, polymerase chain reaction, in situ polymerase chain reaction and in situ reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. As control, 28 brain tissue specimens were taken from 7 age and sex matched subjects without chlamydial infection. C. pneumoniae was detected in 16 (84.2%) out of 19 patients with chlamydial vascular infection whereas it was not detected in control subjects (p= 0.0002). In conclusion, the main result of our study is the evidence that a chlamydial vascular infection can disseminate to the brain. It will be important for current and future researches to perform large-scale prospective studies on cardiovascular patients with chlamydial vascular infection in order to evaluate the long-term pathological alterations of the brain.

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