B-cell-deficient mice develop complete immune protection against genital tract infection with Chlamydia trachomatis


Dr Nils Lycke Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology, University of Göteborg, S-413 46 Göteborg, Sweden.


We evaluated the ability of mice made genetically deficient for B cells to resolve a primary infection and to develop protective immunity against vaginal challenge with a human isolate of Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. The B-cell-deficient μmT mice cleared a primary ascending infection with similar or faster kinetics compared with wild-type mice. The presence of chlamydial inclusion bodies and the degree of inflammation in the upper genital tract was comparable and showed similar kinetics in μmT as in wild-type mice. Following resolution of the primary infection the mice were challenged by 100 ID50 of live bacteria and the level of protection and the extent of local inflammation was assessed. Strikingly, all μmT mice, as well as most of the wild-type mice, demonstrated complete immune protection with no bacterial shedding. While high titres of chlamydia-specific antibodies were stimulated locally and systemically in wild-type mice, no antibodies were detected in μmT mice. However, in both strains, immunohistochemical analysis of the upper genital tract demonstrated the presence of large numbers of CD4+ T cells and increased levels of interferon-γ (IFN-γ)-producing cells. The results unequivocally demonstrate that antibodies are not required for full protection to develop against ascending infection with a high dose of C. trachomatis in the female genital tract. Our study confirms the notion that cell-mediated immunity, in particular that owing to CD4+ T helper 1 (Th1)-type cells, is critical for host resistance against C. trachomatis in mice.