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Summary

Chlamydia pneumoniae causes respiratory infections. In chronic diseases associated with Chlamydia, such as arteriosclerosis, C. pneumoniae is present in a persistent form, which might participate in pathogenesis of chronic inflammatory disease. To elucidate how these intracellular bacteria modulate host-cells during persistence, we compared the expression pattern of a range of host genes after short (24 h) and long (up to 7 days) times of chlamydia infection in HeLa-cells. One day post infection, in three cell-culture models of persistence, namely treatment with penicillin or IFN-γ, or iron-depletion, infection induced the genes of CTGF, IL-6, IL-8, IL-11, LIF, EGR-1 and ETV4 in a similar fashion. However, after a longer time, two modes of host-cell reaction emerged that were dependent on the persistence model used. After IFN-γ and penicillin treatment chlamydia-induced host-cell gene expression was inhibited, while it stayed upregulated in iron-depletion. Human monocytes/macrophages, in which persistence naturally occurs, were additionally investigated: for several genes, UV-inactivated and viable chlamydia caused long-lasting upregulation. Thus, this study reveals (i) the ability of C. pneumoniae to participate in two putative pathomechanisms of persistence, silencing and permanent activation, which might represent different in vivo situations and (ii) a strong dependence on the mode of persistence induction.