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PLoS One. 2017 May 11;12(5):e0177653. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0177653. eCollection 2017.

Pathogenic outcome following experimental infection of sheep with Chlamydia abortus variant strains LLG and POS.

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Moredun Research Institute, Penicuik, Midlothian, United Kingdom.
Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.
Laboratory of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, School of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece.
Formerly Laboratory of Biotechnology, Department of Microbiology, Hellenic Pasteur Institute, Athens, Greece.


This study investigated the pathogenesis of two variant strains (LLG and POS) of Chlamydia abortus, in comparison to a typical wild-type strain (S26/3) which is known to be responsible for late term abortion in small ruminants. Challenge with the three strains at mid-gestation resulted in similar pregnancy outcomes, with abortion occurring in approximately 50-60% of ewes with the mean gestational lengths also being similar. However, differences were observed in the severity of placental pathology, with infection appearing milder for strain LLG, which was reflected in the lower number of organisms shed in vaginal swabs post-partum and less gross pathology and organisms present in placental smears. Results for strain POS were somewhat different than LLG with a more focal restriction of infection observed. Post-abortion antibody responses revealed prominent differences in seropositivity to the major outer membrane protein (MOMP) present in elementary body (EB) preparations under denaturing conditions, most notably with anti-LLG and anti-POS convalescent sera where there was no or reduced detection of MOMP present in EBs derived from the three strains. These results and additional analysis of whole EB and chlamydial outer membrane complex preparations suggest that there are conformational differences in MOMP for the three strains. Overall, the results suggest that gross placental pathology and clinical outcome is not indicative of bacterial colonization and the severity of infection. The results also highlight potential conformational differences in MOMP epitopes that perhaps impact on disease diagnosis and the development of new vaccines.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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