Gastrointestinal coinfection promotes chlamydial pathogenicity in the genital tract

Qi Tian, Zengzi Zhou, Luying Wang, Al Mutassim Hani Abu-Khdeir, Zhi Huo, Xin Sun, Nu Zhang, Robert Schenken, Yufeng Wang, Min Xue, Guangming Zhong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Sexually transmitted Chlamydia, which can cause fibrotic pathology in women's genital tracts, is also frequently detected in the gastrointestinal tract. However, the medical significance of the gastrointestinal Chlamydia remains unclear. A murine Chlamydia readily spreads from the mouse genital tract to the gastrointestinal tract while inducing oviduct fibrotic blockage or hydrosalpinx. We previously proposed a two-hit model in which the mouse gastrointestinal Chlamydia might induce the second hit to promote genital tract pathology, and we are now providing experimental evidence for testing the hypothesis. First, chlamydial mutants that are attenuated in inducing hydrosalpinx in the genital tract also reduce their colonization in the gastrointestinal tract, leading to a better correlation of chlamydial induction of hydrosalpinx with chlamydial colonization in the gastrointestinal tract than in the genital tract. Second, intragastric coinoculation with a wild-type Chlamydia rescued an attenuated Chlamydia mutant to induce hydrosalpinx, while the chlamydial mutant infection in the genital tract alone was unable to induce any significant hydrosalpinx. Finally, the coinoculated gastrointestinal Chlamydia failed to directly spread to the genital tract lumen, suggesting that gastrointestinal Chlamydia may promote genital pathology via an indirect mechanism. Thus, we have demonstrated a significant role of gastrointestinal Chlamydia in promoting pathology in the genital tract possibly via an indirect mechanism. This study provides a novel direction/dimension for further investigating chlamydial pathogenic mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00905-19
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • Chlamydia
  • Gastrointestinal colonization
  • Genital pathology
  • Gut chlamydia
  • Hydrosalpinx
  • Pathogenesis
  • Tubal fibrosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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