Effects of immunomodulatory drug fingolimod (FTY720) on chlamydia dissemination and pathogenesis

Zengzi Zhou, Lingxiang Xie, Luying Wang, Min Xue, Dabao Xu, Guangming Zhong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fingolimod (FTY720), an FDA-approved immunomodulatory drug for treating multiple sclerosis, is an agonist of sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor (S1PR), which has been used as a research tool for inhibiting immune cell trafficking. FTY720 was recently reported to inhibit Chlamydia dissemination. Since genital Chlamydia spreading to the gastrointestinal tract correlated with its pathogenicity in the upper genital tract, we evaluated the effect of FTY720 on chlamydial pathogenicity in the current study. Following an intravaginal inoculation, live chlamydial organisms were detected in mouse rectal swabs. FTY720 treatment significantly delayed live organism shedding in the rectal swabs. However, FTY720 failed to block chlamydial spreading to the gastrointestinal tract. The live chlamydial organisms recovered from rectal swabs reached similar levels between mice with or without FTY720 treatment by day 42 in C57BL/6J and day 28 in CBA/J mice, respectively. Thus, genital Chlamydia is able to launch a 2nd wave of spreading via an FTY720-resistant pathway after the 1st wave of spreading is inhibited by FTY720. As a result, all mice developed significant hydrosalpinx. The FTY720-resistant spreading led to stable colonization of chlamydial organisms in the colon. Consistently, FTY720 did not alter the colonization of intracolonically inoculated Chlamydia. Thus, we have demonstrated that, following a delay in chlamydial spreading caused by FTY720, genital Chlamydia is able to both spread to the gastrointestinal tract via an FTY720-resistant pathway and maintain its pathogenicity in the upper genital tract. Further characterization of the FTY720-resistant pathway(s) explored by Chlamydia for spreading to the gastrointestinal tract may promote our understanding of Chlamydia pathogenic mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00281
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Chlamydia
  • Dissemination
  • FTY720
  • Fingolimod
  • Hydrosalpinx

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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