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      Chlamydia trachomatis: the Persistent Pathogen

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          ABSTRACT

          Chlamydia trachomatis is an obligate intracellular bacterium whose only natural host is humans. Although presenting as asymptomatic in most women, genital tract chlamydial infections are a leading cause of pelvic inflammatory disease, tubal factor infertility, and ectopic pregnancy. C. trachomatis has evolved successful mechanisms to avoid destruction by autophagy and the host immune system and persist within host epithelial cells. The intracellular form of this organism, the reticulate body, can enter into a persistent nonreplicative but viable state under unfavorable conditions. The infectious form of the organism, the elementary body, is again generated when the immune attack subsides. In its persistent form, C. trachomatis ceases to produce its major structural and membrane components, but synthesis of its 60-kDa heat shock protein (hsp60) is greatly upregulated and released from the cell. The immune response to hsp60, perhaps exacerbated by repeated cycles of productive infection and persistence, may promote damage to fallopian tube epithelial cells, scar formation, and tubal occlusion. The chlamydial and human hsp60 proteins are very similar, and hsp60 is one of the first proteins produced by newly formed embryos. Thus, the development of immunity to epitopes in the chlamydial hsp60 that are also present in the corresponding human hsp60 may increase susceptibility to pregnancy failure in infected women. Delineation of host factors that increase the likelihood that C. trachomatis will avoid immune destruction and survive within host epithelial cells and utilization of this knowledge to design individualized preventative and treatment protocols are needed to more effectively combat infections by this persistent pathogen.

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          Autophagy: renovation of cells and tissues.

          Autophagy is the major intracellular degradation system by which cytoplasmic materials are delivered to and degraded in the lysosome. However, the purpose of autophagy is not the simple elimination of materials, but instead, autophagy serves as a dynamic recycling system that produces new building blocks and energy for cellular renovation and homeostasis. Here we provide a multidisciplinary review of our current understanding of autophagy's role in metabolic adaptation, intracellular quality control, and renovation during development and differentiation. We also explore how recent mouse models in combination with advances in human genetics are providing key insights into how the impairment or activation of autophagy contributes to pathogenesis of diverse diseases, from neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson disease to inflammatory disorders such as Crohn disease. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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            Vaginal microbiome of reproductive-age women.

            The means by which vaginal microbiomes help prevent urogenital diseases in women and maintain health are poorly understood. To gain insight into this, the vaginal bacterial communities of 396 asymptomatic North American women who represented four ethnic groups (white, black, Hispanic, and Asian) were sampled and the species composition characterized by pyrosequencing of barcoded 16S rRNA genes. The communities clustered into five groups: four were dominated by Lactobacillus iners, L. crispatus, L. gasseri, or L. jensenii, whereas the fifth had lower proportions of lactic acid bacteria and higher proportions of strictly anaerobic organisms, indicating that a potential key ecological function, the production of lactic acid, seems to be conserved in all communities. The proportions of each community group varied among the four ethnic groups, and these differences were statistically significant [χ(2)(10) = 36.8, P < 0.0001]. Moreover, the vaginal pH of women in different ethnic groups also differed and was higher in Hispanic (pH 5.0 ± 0.59) and black (pH 4.7 ± 1.04) women as compared with Asian (pH 4.4 ± 0.59) and white (pH 4.2 ± 0.3) women. Phylotypes with correlated relative abundances were found in all communities, and these patterns were associated with either high or low Nugent scores, which are used as a factor for the diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis. The inherent differences within and between women in different ethnic groups strongly argues for a more refined definition of the kinds of bacterial communities normally found in healthy women and the need to appreciate differences between individuals so they can be taken into account in risk assessment and disease diagnosis.
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              A critical assessment of the “sterile womb” and “in utero colonization” hypotheses: implications for research on the pioneer infant microbiome

              After more than a century of active research, the notion that the human fetal environment is sterile and that the neonate’s microbiome is acquired during and after birth was an accepted dogma. However, recent studies using molecular techniques suggest bacterial communities in the placenta, amniotic fluid, and meconium from healthy pregnancies. These findings have led many scientists to challenge the “sterile womb paradigm” and propose that microbiome acquisition instead begins in utero, an idea that would fundamentally change our understanding of gut microbiota acquisition and its role in human development. In this review, we provide a critical assessment of the evidence supporting these two opposing hypotheses, specifically as it relates to (i) anatomical, immunological, and physiological characteristics of the placenta and fetus; (ii) the research methods currently used to study microbial populations in the intrauterine environment; (iii) the fecal microbiome during the first days of life; and (iv) the generation of axenic animals and humans. Based on this analysis, we argue that the evidence in support of the “in utero colonization hypothesis” is extremely weak as it is founded almost entirely on studies that (i) used molecular approaches with an insufficient detection limit to study “low-biomass” microbial populations, (ii) lacked appropriate controls for contamination, and (iii) failed to provide evidence of bacterial viability. Most importantly, the ability to reliably derive axenic animals via cesarean sections strongly supports sterility of the fetal environment in mammals. We conclude that current scientific evidence does not support the existence of microbiomes within the healthy fetal milieu, which has implications for the development of clinical practices that prevent microbiome perturbations after birth and the establishment of future research priorities.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Clinical and Vaccine Immunology
                Clin Vaccine Immunol
                American Society for Microbiology
                1556-6811
                1556-679X
                October 2017
                August 23 2017
                October 05 2017
                October 2017
                : 24
                : 10
                Affiliations
                [1 ] Division of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, New York, USA
                [2 ] Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, University of São Paulo Medical School, São Paulo, Brazil
                Article
                10.1128/CVI.00203-17
                5629669
                28835360
                bcfb0193-46f5-4b75-9078-ea214fefd5ec
                © 2017
                History

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