Transient Detection of Chlamydial-Specific Th1 Memory Cells in the Peripheral Circulation of Women with History of Chlamydia trachomatis Genital Tract Infection



Thomas L Cherpes, MD, Department of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Rangos Research Center, Room 9123, 4401 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15224, USA.




Development of safe and effective Chlamydia trachomatis vaccines requires better understanding of the host immune responses elicited by natural infection.

Method of study

Peripheral blood mononuclear cells isolated from women with or without history of genital tract chlamydial infection were stimulated with inactivated C. trachomatis elementary bodies (EB) in ELISPOT assays that enumerated frequencies of cells producing interferon (IFN)-γ or interleukin (IL)-17.


IFN-γ-positive cells were highest among women sampled 30–60 days after diagnosis of C. trachomatis infection and treatment initiation, while the numbers of IFN-γ-positive cells were equally low among uninfected women and women sampled <30 or >60 days after diagnosis of infection. Conversely, IL-17-positive cell numbers were uniformly low among all participants.


Dramatically reduced numbers of Chlamydia-specific Th1 memory cells in the peripheral circulation of study participants sampled more than 2 months after diagnosis, and initiation of treatment provides new insight into the results from C. trachomatis vaccine trials, in which immunization with EB provided only short-lived protection. Our results also suggest that an effective vaccine against this weakly antigenic intracellular pathogen will need to generate immunological memory more durable than that elicited by natural infection.