Chlamydiales and the innate immune response: Friend or foe?

Brigida Rusconi, Gilbert Greub

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Pathogenicity of Chlamydia and Chlamydia-related bacteria could be partially mediated by an enhanced activation of the innate immune response. The study of this host pathogen interaction has proved challenging due to the restricted in vitro growth of these strict intracellular bacteria and the lack of genetic tools to manipulate their genomes. Despite these difficulties, the interactions of Chlamydiales with the innate immune cells and their effectors have been studied thoroughly. This review aims to point out the role of pattern recognition receptors and signal molecules (cytokines, reactive oxygen species) of the innate immune response in the pathogenesis of chlamydial infection. Besides inducing clearance of the bacteria, some of these effectors may be used by the Chlamydia to establish chronic infections or to spread. Thus, the induced innate immune response seems to be variable depending on the species and/or the serovar, making the pattern more complex. It remains crucial to determine the common players of the innate immune response in order to help define new treatment strategies and to develop effective vaccines. The excellent growth in phagocytic cells of some Chlamydia-related organisms such as Waddlia chondrophila supports their use as model organisms to study conserved features important for interactions between the innate immunity and Chlamydia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-244
Number of pages14
JournalFEMS Immunology and Medical Microbiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Chlamydia
  • Cytokines
  • Intracellular bacteria
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Toll-like receptors


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