Chlamydia pneumoniae (CP) is a common cause of respiratory tract infections, and several studies have asked whether it may play a pathogenic role in connection with bronchial asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Evidence that CP infection is associated with these diseases is a cardinal item. However, evaluation of CP infection is hampered by difficulties in obtaining agreement on the definition of a gold standard. In the literature, serology is based on different cutoff points of antibody titres, which complicates the definition of CP seropositive findings and the classification of acute infection, chronic and past infection. In connection with acute and chronic infection, it is important to demonstrate the presence of CP by culture or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in the respiratory tract, especially in the lower airways. Often, the results of serology is not associated with the findings by culture or PCR testing, which may involve the risk of inconclusive evidence. Evaluation of a possible presence of CP by clinical improvement after treatment with antibiotics is difficult since uncontrolled studies have been used and other microorganisms are also affected by antibiotics. Furthermore, many patients improve without antibiotics, and improvement has also been observed in patients remaining culture positive after treatment with antibiotics. It should also be noted that the antiinflammatory effects of antibiotics may improve the clinical status of patients. Despite these obstacles, studies point to the possibility that in some patients acute CP infections may lead to acute exacerbations of bronchial asthma. Whether a persistent CP infection contributes to chronic asthma or severe COPD, or whether it incites the diseases in previously healthy individuals is a question for further studies. Whether a causal relationship exists between CP infection and obstructive pulmonary disease or whether these patients are more susceptible to CP infection is unknown. Nevertheless, a cooperative role of CP in the proinflammatory mechanisms involved in these diseases remains to be examined since cellular studies show that CP stimulates the production and expression of cytokines, chemokines and adhesion molecules, actions that may amplify and prolong the inflammation.
|Tidsskrift||Journal of Investigational Allergology and Clinical Immunology|
|Status||Udgivet - 15 aug. 2002|