Morphologic and molecular evaluation of Chlamydia trachomatis growth in human endocervix reveals distinct growth patterns

Maria E. Lewis, Robert J. Belland, Yasser M. AbdelRahman, Wandy L. Beatty, Ashok A. Aiyar, Arnold H. Zea, Sheila J. Greene, Luis Marrero, Lyndsey R. Buckner, David J. Tate, Chris L. McGowin, Pamela A. Kozlowski, Michelle O'Brien, Rebecca A. Lillis, David H. Martin, Alison J. Quayle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


In vitro models of Chlamydia trachomatis growth have long been studied to predict growth in vivo. Alternative or persistent growth modes in vitro have been shown to occur under the influence of numerous stressors but have not been studied in vivo. Here, we report the development of methods for sampling human infections from the endocervix in a manner that permits a multifaceted analysis of the bacteria, host and the endocervical environment. Our approach permits evaluating total bacterial load, transcriptional patterns, morphology by immunofluorescence and electron microscopy, and levels of cytokines and nutrients in the infection microenvironment. By applying this approach to two pilot patients with disparate infections, we have determined that their contrasting growth patterns correlate with strikingly distinct transcriptional biomarkers, and are associated with differences in local levels of IFNγ. Our multifaceted approach will be useful to dissect infections in the human host and be useful in identifying patients at risk for chronic disease. Importantly, the molecular and morphological analyses described here indicate that persistent growth forms can be isolated from the human endocervix when the infection microenvironment resembles the in vitro model of IFNγ-induced persistence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number71
JournalFrontiers in cellular and infection microbiology
Issue numberJUN
StatePublished - 2014


  • Bacterial persistence
  • Chlamydia trachomatis
  • Endocervix
  • Human
  • Indole
  • Interferon gamma


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