Hypothesis: Chlamydia trachomatis infection of the female genital tract is controlled by Type 2 immunity.

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Rangos Research Center, 4401 Penn Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15224, USA.
Medical Hypotheses (Impact Factor: 1.18). 09/2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.mehy.2012.07.032
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Chlamydia trachomatis is an obligate intracellular bacterium sexually transmitted to more than 90 million individuals each year. As this level of infectivity implies, C. trachomatis is a successful human parasite; a success facilitated by its ability to cause asymptomatic infection. Host defense against C. trachomatis in the female genital tract is not well defined, but current dogma suggests infection is controlled largely by T(H)1 immunity. Conversely, it is well established that T(H)2 immunity controls allergens, helminths, and other extracellular pathogens that cause repetitive or persistent T cell stimulation but do not induce the exuberant inflammation that drives T(H)1 and T(H)17 immunity. As C. trachomatis persists in female genital tract epithelial cells but does not elicit over tissue inflammation, we now posit that defense is maintained by Type 2 immune responses that control bacterial growth but minimize immunopathological damage to vital reproductive tract anatomy. Evaluation of this hypothesis may uncover novel mechanisms by which Type 2 immunity can control growth of C. trachomatis and other intracellular pathogens, while confirmation that T(H)2 immunity was selected by evolution to control C. trachomatis infection in the female genital tract will transform current research, now focused on developing vaccines that elicit strong, and therefore potentially tissue destructive, Chlamydia-specific T(H)1 immunity.

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