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Keywords:

  • cell-mediated immunity;
  • chlamydial heat shock protein 60;
  • Chlamydia trachomatis;
  • tubal infertility

SUMMARY

Chlamydia trachomatis-associated tubal factor infertility (TFI) involves enhanced humoral and cell-mediated immune response to the chlamydial 60 kDa heat shock protein (CHSP60). We evaluated the role of CHSP60-induced immune response in TFI by studying lymphocyte proliferation and cytokine (interferon (IFN)-γ, interleukin (IL)-12 and IL-10) secretion in response to C. trachomatis elementary body (EB) and CHSP60 antigens in 57 women with TFI and in 76 women with other causes of infertility. Positive proliferative response of PBMC to CHSP60 was more common in the TFI group (20/57; 36%) than in the other groups (17/76; 22%) although the frequency or the median responses did not differ significantly (1·6, range 0·2–22·1 versus 1·4; 0·2–24·4). C. trachomatis EB induced significantly higher IFN-γ and lower IL-10 secretion in the TFI group compared to the other groups. The EB and CHSP60 induced IL-12 secretion was similar in all study groups and correlated with IFN-γ secretion in the other but not in the TFI group. The lack of correlation between EB-induced IL-12 and IFN-γ production and simultaneously found prominent IL-10 secretion in response to CHSP60 in the TFI group suggests that the CHSP60 may have a specific role in regulating the immune reactions during chlamydial infection and may consequently contribute to the immunopathogenesis of TFI.