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Int J Exp Pathol. 2014 Aug;95(4):282-9. doi: 10.1111/iep.12086. Epub 2014 Jun 23.

Histological characteristics of the abdominal aortic wall in patients with vascular chronic Q fever.

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Department of Surgery, Jeroen Bosch Hospital, 's-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands.


The aim of this study was to describe specific histological findings of the Coxiella burnetii-infected aneurysmal abdominal aortic wall. Tissue samples of the aneurysmal abdominal aortic wall from seven patients with chronic Q fever and 15 patients without evidence of Q fever infection were analysed and compared. Chronic Q fever was diagnosed using serology and tissue PCR analysis. Histological sections were stained using haematoxylin and eosin staining, Elastica van Gieson staining and immunohistochemical staining for macrophages (CD68), T lymphocytes (CD3), T lymphocyte subsets (CD4 and CD8) and B lymphocytes (CD20). Samples were scored by one pathologist, blinded for Q fever status, using a standard score form. Seven tissue samples from patients with chronic Q fever and 15 tissue samples from patients without Q fever were collected. Four of seven chronic Q fever samples showed a necrotizing granulomatous response of the vascular wall, which was characterized by necrotic core of the arteriosclerotic plaque (P = 0.005) and a presence of high numbers of macrophages in the adventitia (P = 0.007) distributed in typical palisading formation (P = 0.005) and surrounded by the presence of high numbers of T lymphocytes located diffusely in media and adventitia. Necrotizing granulomas are a histological finding in the C. burnetii-infected aneurysmal abdominal aortic wall. Chronic Q fever should be included in the list of infectious diseases with necrotizing granulomatous response, such as tuberculosis, cat scratch disease and syphilis.


aneurysm; chronic Q fever; granulomatous disease; infection; vascular disease

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