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Keywords:

  • Chlamydia trachomatis;
  • chlamydial infectious load;
  • cytokines;
  • flow cytometry;
  • plasmacytoid and myeloid dendritic cells

Abstract

The mobilization of myeloid dendritic cells (mDCs) and plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) to the cervix during chlamydial infection is not fully understood, and the role of these cells in immunopathogenesis is largely unknown. As an effective vaccine to control chlamydial infection is currently unavailable, understanding the regulation of the local immune response becomes a necessity. Therefore, mDC and pDC populations were analysed in peripheral blood and cervical samples of controls and Chlamydia-positive women, with or without mucopurulent cervicitis (MPC). Cervical cytokines and C-reactive protein levels in serum were quantified by ELISA and the chlamydial infectious load by culture. Chlamydia trachomatis infection mobilized both mDCs and pDCs to the cervical mucosa. pDCs were recruited more often in women with MPC (p <0.05) and they correlated significantly with the chlamydial load, C-reactive protein levels and cervical interleukin-8 (IL-8) levels. Upregulation of surface expression of co-stimulatory molecules (CD80, CD83 and CD86) on cervical mDCs and pDCs was observed during chlamydial infection but was significant only for mDCs. Significantly higher levels of IL-1β, IL-6 and IL-8 were observed in Chlamydia-positive women with MPC; however, after therapy, IL-8 levels decreased significantly. Median numbers of mDCs after therapy were significantly higher in the cervix and blood of infected women as compared to the numbers of pDCs, which were found to be lower in the cervix after therapy. These results thus suggest that during chlamydial infection, both mDCs and pDCs are recruited to the cervix, but their number and possible immunological functions may differ with the pathological condition. pDCs were associated more often with MPC and inflammatory factors, suggesting that they may possibly be involved in the immunopathogenesis of infections due to Chlamydia.