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J Antimicrob Chemother. 2013 Oct;68(10):2363-8. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkt179. Epub 2013 Jun 7.

Doxycycline suppresses Chlamydia pneumoniae-mediated increases in ongoing immunoglobulin E and interleukin-4 responses by peripheral blood mononuclear cells of patients with allergic asthma.

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Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at SUNY Downstate, State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center, 450 Clarkson Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11203, USA.



Chlamydia pneumoniae, an obligate intracellular bacterium, has been associated with asthma and the induction of immunoglobulin E (IgE) responses. Whereas tetracyclines have anti-chlamydial activity, their effect on human IgE responses to C. pneumoniae has not been studied.


Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from serum IgE+ allergic asthmatic subjects (n = 11) and healthy controls (n = 12) were infected with C. pneumoniae and cultured for 12 days with or without doxycycline (0.01-1.0 mg/L). IgE, interferon (IFN)-γ and interleukin (IL)-4 levels in supernatants were determined on days 1-12 post-infection, and C. pneumoniae DNA copy numbers in PBMC culture were measured on day 2 (quantitative PCR).


C. pneumoniae-infected PBMCs from allergic asthmatic individuals had increased levels of IgE in supernatants compared with uninfected PBMCs (520% on day 10 post-infection, P = 0.008). IgE levels in PBMC cultures from controls were undetectable (<0.3 ng/mL). Increases in C. pneumoniae-induced IgE in asthmatics correlated with those of C. pneumoniae-induced IL-4 (r = 0.98; P < 0.001), but not with IFN-γ. The addition of doxycycline (1.0 mg/L) to the culture strongly suppressed the production of IgE (>70%, P = 0.04) and IL-4 (75%, P = 0.018), but not IFN-γ. The suppressive effect on IL-4 production remained significant even at concentrations of doxycycline that were subinhibitory (0.01 mg/L) for C. pneumoniae. In both asthmatic participants and controls, no significant effect of doxycycline on DNA copy numbers of C. pneumoniae was observed.


Doxycycline suppressed the C. pneumoniae-induced production of IgE and IL-4, but not IFN-γ, in PBMCs from IgE+ allergic asthmatic subjects. These findings resulted from the immunomodulatory anti-allergic properties of tetracyclines.


cytokines; immunomodulation; inflammation; tetracyclines

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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