Modulation of the immune and cytokine response during an in vivo infection with Chlamydiae

Doctoral Researcher

Principal Investigator

Prof. Dr. med.

Background and current state of research

Infections with the obligate intracellular pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis are of importance, as they account for the most common sexually transmitted bacterial disease worldwide. An asymptomatic infection can have severe sequels, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility. To furthermore study chlamydial infections in vivo, a mouse model has been established in our research group. Within this model we are able to infect mice with either the human pathogen strain Chlamydia trachomatis or the murine pathogen Chlamydia muridarum. However, the course and outcome of an infection with different Chlamydia sp. vary in spite of for example the bacterial shedding and the formation of pathologies. It is already known that leucocytes and lymphocytes infiltrate the tissue and several cytokines are prominent.

Our goals

In this project the immune cells which infiltrate the tissue of the female urogenital tract of mice and thereby secreted cytokines will be analyzed in order to characterize differences during the diverse infections to elucidate the immunological processes during an infection. Due to environmental changes, as antibiotic treatment, and genetic alterations, using HIF-1α-/- mice, we aim to determine the possible influences on the cellular composition during an infection and the cytokine response.

How to get there

Besides well established cell culture methods, the infection of mice will be in the focus of interest. Two different infection routes will be used to inoculate different chlamydial strains in vivo. At different time points the immune response will be monitored by using methods such as FACS analysis, ELISA and PCR. Furthermore, the application of antibiotics will be used to modulate the inflammatory response, the course and outcome of the infection. Additionally, the influence of HIF-1α on the outcome of a chlamydial infection will be examined by using mice with a conditional HIF-1α knock-out in the myeloid cell lineage.