Comparison of multiple genital tract infections with Chlamydia trachomatis in different strains of female mice

Department of Infectious Diseases, City of Hope National Medical Center, Beckman Research Institute, Duarte, California 91010, USA.
Journal of microbiology, immunology, and infection = Wei mian yu gan ran za zhi (Impact Factor: 2.35). 01/2006; 38(6):383-93.
Source: PubMed


We have previously shown that female outbred CF-1 mice are susceptible to prolonged genital tract infection with the oculogenital serovars (D-K) of Chlamydia trachomatis, and that partial homotypic and heterotypic protection against reinfection is induced. To understand the possible role of inherent T-helper 1 (Th1)/Th2 polarity bias on both the course of infection and the level of acquired immunity induced by infection, 2 immunologically different and well-characterized inbred strains of mice, BALB/c and C57BL/6, were studied in this model. Groups of mice were inoculated intravaginally with C. trachomatis serovar D (Ct D) and monitored by culture to determine the duration of initial infection. Two months later, mice were reinfected, and monitored along with age- and condition-matched control groups. Plasma and vaginal secretions were collected for serologic analysis and specific delayed-type hypersensitivity was assessed by footpad swelling. Initial infection in C57BL/6 mice was comparable in duration to outbred CF-1 mice (median duration 42 versus 43.5 days), while BALB/c mice had a shorter median duration of initial infection (12 days). All strains had significantly shorter durations of infection following reinfection. BALB/c mice shed 4-10 times more inclusion-forming units (IFU) than both C57BL/6 and CF-1 mice on sample days during the first week of infection and all strains shed less IFU during reinfection. C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice had significantly lower anti-Ct D immunoglobulin G titers in both plasma and vaginal secretions than CF-1 mice following resolution of infection; the frequency of immunoglobulin A seropositive vaginal secretions was less in both inbred strains, being significantly less in the case of C57BL/6 mice. Qualitative analysis of the antigen specificity and isotype composition revealed differences among the mouse strains. All 3 strains had detectable levels of specific footpad swelling on day 14 of infection, whereas only BALB/c mice showed a significant response at 70 days post-infection. Significant differences between 2 strains of mice that differ in Th1/Th2 polarity bias were observed in: 1) the duration of infection; 2) the level of bacterial shedding during infection; and 3) the quantitative and qualitative cellular and humoral responses made in response to female genital tract infection with a human oculogenital isolate of C. trachomatis. In addition, a similar and significant level of partial acquired immunity to reinfection was observed in both strains, suggesting that inherent Th1/Th2 polarity bias present upon initial infection does not prevent the development of a protective immune response within the genital tract during infection with an oculogenital isolate of C. trachomatis.

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    ABSTRACT: Chlamydia trachomatis is a human pathogen of the genital tract and ocular epithelium. It is an obligate intracellular parasite with a unique biphasic development cycle. C.trachomatis infection is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted disease in industrialized nations. Its ability to cause chronic disease makes it a serious economic burden and health threat to developed and developing countries. Although treatable, approximately 70% of C.trachomatis infections are asymptomatic, potentially leading to the development of chronic sequelae. Furthermore, chlamydial genital tract infection has been associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer and human immunodeficiency virus infection. Consequently, the development of an efficacious vaccine is the most convenient, potentially reliable and cost effective option to control chlamydial infection and disease complications. Anti-chlamydial protective immunity is essentially mediated by a T helper, type 1 (Th1), response that is dependent upon the presentation of antigen via major histocompatibility (MHC) class II molecules. While antibody secreting cells are not critical components of the primary effector response, they have been shown to be important for clearance of re-infection. Thus an ideal vaccine would be one capable of inducing both a strong Th1 T cell response and a strong mucosal antibody response. Currently there are very few efficacious vaccine candidates that have been identified and characterized. More specifically, there is only a limited number of known T cell antigens processed and presented by the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II molecules. This type of antigen is going to be essential to the development of an efficacious chlamydial vaccine. In this study we have identified a number of unique vaccine candidates using a novel in silico approach. In an attempt to overcome HLA polymorphism the whole chlamydial genome was screened for proteins containing epitopes predicted to bind multiple HLA class II molecules (i.e. predicted ‘promiscuous’ T cell epitopes). A wide range of HLA class II molecules were used in this screen to identify vaccine antigens that could potentially offer broad and ethnically balanced population coverage. This analysis identified a number of novel targets and was validated by the identification of a known chlamydial T cell epitope. A selection of these target proteins was cloned, expressed and purified. Recombinant protein was screened against serum samples from patients with both acute and chronic chlamydial infections. Two novel targets, hypothetical protein CT425 and ribonucleotide reductase small chain protein (NrdB) were identified as being immunoreactive. The in vivo protective efficacy of NrdB was analyzed using a mouse model. CD4+ T cells were harvested from NrdB immunized mice and adoptively transferred to naïve mice, which were subsequently infected at the genital site. NrdB immunization was found to confer a CD4+ T cell driven degree of protection similar to that seen with CD4+ T cells primed from a live challenge. The adjuvants and route of immunization used ensured immunological responses were initiated at both the systemic and local sites of infection. Immunization elicited a predominant Th1 response with primed T cells producing high levels of interferon gamma, an essential requirement for the development of an efficacious chlamydial vaccine. Furthermore, high titres of antigen specific IgG and IgA were produced following immunization, with sera derived antibodies demonstrating neutralization properties. NrdB is a highly conserved chlamydial protein with an essential role in the replication of chlamydiae and could play a central role in a multi-subunit vaccine against chlamydial genital tract infections.
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