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Microbiol Immunol. 1998;42(9):617-25.

Immune control of Chlamydial growth in the human epithelial cell line RT4 involves multiple mechanisms that include nitric oxide induction, tryptophan catabolism and iron deprivation.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30310, USA.


The antimicrobial activity of T cell-derived cytokines, especially interferon (IFN)-gamma, against intracellular pathogens, such as Chlamydia trachomatis, involves the induction of 3 major biochemical processes: tryptophan catabolism, nitric oxide (NO) induction and intracellular iron (Fe) deprivation. Since the epithelial cell is the natural target of chlamydial infection, the presence of these antimicrobial systems in the cell would suggest that they may be involved in T cell control of intracellular multiplication of Chlamydia. However, the controversy over whether these 3 antimicrobial processes are present in both mice and humans has precluded the assessment of the relative contribution of each of the 3 mechanisms to chlamydial inhibition in the same epithelial cell from either mice or humans. In the present study, we identified a Chlamydia-susceptible human epithelial cell line, RT4, that possesses the 3 antimicrobial systems, and we examined the role of nitric oxide (NO) induction, and deprivation of tryptophan or Fe in cytokine-induced inhibition of chlamydiae. It was found that the 3 antimicrobial systems contributed to cytokine-mediated inhibition of the intracellular growth of Chlamydia. NO induction accounted for approximately 20% of the growth inhibition; tryptophan catabolism contributed approximately 30%; iron deprivation was least effective; but the combination of the 3 systems accounted for greater than 60% of the inhibition observed. These results indicate that immune control of chlamydial growth in human epithelial cells may involve multiple mechanisms that include NO induction, tryptophan catabolism and Fe deprivation.

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