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Animals; Biological Transport, Active; Cell Line; Chlamydia; Chlamydia Infections; Humans; Immunoglobulin G; Inclusion Bodies; Leukocytes; Mice; Microscopy, Confocal


Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences | Microbiology


BACKGROUND: Obligate intracellular pathogens belonging to the Chlamydiaceae family possess a number of mechanisms by which to manipulate the host cell and surrounding environment. Such capabilities include the inhibition of apoptosis, down-regulation of major histocompatability complex (MHC) and CD1/d gene expression, and the acquisition of host-synthesized nutrients. It is also documented that a limited number of host-derived macromolecules such as beta-catenin and sphingomyelin accumulate within the inclusion.

RESULTS: This report provides evidence that immunoglobulin, inherently present in the extracellular environment in vivo and in vitro, enters infected cells and accumulates within the chlamydial inclusion. Using epi-fluorescent and confocal microscopy, this selective uptake of Ig is shown to occur among human leukocytes in vivo as well as cells cultured in vitro. These findings were confirmed by detection of IgG in the lysate of infected cells by western blot hybridization. Sequestered antibodies appear to be present during the entire course of the chlamydial developmental cycle and are distributed throughout this compartment. IgG pre-labeled with fluorescein, when added to the supernatant of infected cell cultures, was also imported and readily visualized. Accumulation of these molecules within the inclusion and the failure of bovine serum albumin or F(ab')2 fragments to accumulate in a similar manner suggests the process of entry is specific for intact IgG molecules and not a result of pinocytosis, diffusion, or any other mass endocytic event.

CONCLUSION: Sequestration of a host cell-derived protein within the chlamydial inclusion, although unexpected, is not an unprecedented occurrence. However, selective accumulation of an exogenous host protein, such as extracellular IgG, has not been previously reported in connection with chlamydial infections. The selectivity of this process may indicate that this uptake plays an important role in pathogen physiology or virulence during infection and the phenomenon itself may give rise to novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.

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© 2008 Pollack et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

DOI of Published Version



BMC Microbiol. 2008 Dec 5;8:213. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

BMC microbiology

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