, Volume 91, Issue 2, pp 97-110

Interactions between Chlamydia pneumoniae and trace elements

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An association between Chlamydia pneumoniae and atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases has been suggested. However, other factors may interact in the pathogenesis of valve sclerosis. Therefore, trace elements important for C. pneumoniae growth and host defense and markers of C. pneumoniae infection were studied in sclerotic valves and serum. Forty-six patients undergoing surgical valve replacement due to advanced aortic sclerosis were prospectively studied. Valves from 15 forensic cases with no heart valve disease and plasma from 46 healthy volunteers served as controls. C. pneumoniae was detected in 16/46 (34.8 %) sclerotic valves and in 0/15 forensic controls. IgG and IgA antibodies to C. pneumoniae were present in 54.3% and 26.1 % patients, respectively. In the patients’ valves, iron, magnesium, and zinc each correlated to calcium, a marker of the histopathological severity of disease. Patients showed 10- to 70-fold increases of these trace elements in valves and an increased copper/zinc ratio in serum. In a majority of aortic sclerosis patients, one of several markers of C. pneumoniae infection were detected and all patients had a disturbed trace element balance in valves and serum suggestive of active immune process and infection. The pattern of trace element changes was essentially similar regardless of positive makers of C. pneumoniae, suggesting a similar etiopathogenesis in both subgroups. The 20-fold increase in iron, essential for C. pneumoniae growth, in sclerotic valves suggests a new possible link to this infection in aortic sclerosis.