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Infect Immun. 2000 Jun;68(6):3635-41.

Production of basic fibroblast growth factor and interleukin 6 by human smooth muscle cells following infection with Chlamydia pneumoniae.

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Institute of Medical Microbiology, Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, D-07740 Jena, Germany.


Chlamydia pneumoniae infection has been associated with asthma and atherosclerosis. Smooth muscle cells represent host cells for chlamydiae during chronic infection. In this study we demonstrated that C. pneumoniae infection of human smooth muscle cells in vitro increased production of interleukin 6 (IL-6) and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) as shown by reverse transcription-PCR, immunoblotting, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. In contrast, levels of platelet-derived growth factor A-chain mRNA were not affected after infection. The stimulation of bFGF and IL-6 production was most effective when viable chlamydiae were used as inoculum. Furthermore, inhibition of bacterial protein synthesis with chloramphenicol prevented up-regulation of IL-6 and bFGF in infected cells. Addition of IL-6 antibody to infected cultures diminished bFGF expression, indicating involvement of produced IL-6. These findings suggest that chlamydial infection of smooth muscle cells elicits a cytokine response that may contribute to structural remodeling of the airway wall in chronic asthma and to fibrous plaque formation in atherosclerosis.

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