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Mouse Model Demonstrates Immune System Reaction In Chlamydia Infection

Microbiology and Molecular Genetics identified one of the Chlamydia proteins recognized by T cells during infection and engineered mice where all the T cells in the mice exclusively respond to this Chlamydia protein. These mice are known as T cell receptor transgenic (TCRtg) mice and have none of the T cell diversity found in a normal mouse. Starnbach and his team harvested T cells from the Chlamydia-specific TCRtg mice, labeled them with a dye, and injected them into normal mice. By boosting the number of Chlamydia-specific T cells in the recipient mice, they were able to identify and monitor them as they responded to infection.

"We found that when the recipient mice were infected with Chlamydia, the labeled T cells became activated specifically in the lymph nodes near the reproductive tract, expanded in number in those lymph nodes, and migrated into the mucosa lining the genital tract," Starnbach said. "We also found that the T cells recruited to the genital mucosa secrete gamma interferon as they respond to Chlamydia infection. Gamma interferon secretion has been described as the key molecule T cells use to rid the body of Chlamydia."

The findings show how T cell responses can be studied in reproductive tissues, which is likely to reveal avenues to the development of vaccines against Chlamydia, and possibly other STDs.

"In this report, we identify one candidate protein, Cta1, and show that T cells specific for Cta1 can reduce Chlamydia infection," Starnbach said. "In designing a vaccine, we would want to make sure the vaccine stimulates T cells with characteristics that cause them to home to the genital tract - the site of infection. We also would want them to respond with the same arsenal of protective factors – such as the secretion of gamma interferon that we show occurs using our TCRtg tools."

The goal of vaccines is to stimulate a response that mimics exposure to a pathogen, without the risks of actual infecti
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