Role of Innate and Adaptive Immunity in the Control of Q Fever

  • Christian Capo
  • Jean-Louis Mege
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (volume 984)


Acute Q fever is commonly resolved without an antibiotic regimen, but a primary infection may develop into a chronic infection in a minority of cases. Coxiella burnetii, the causative agent of Q fever, is known to infect macrophages both in vitro and in vivo. It has been observed that the intracellular survival of C. burnetii requires the subversion of the microbicidal properties of macrophages. Adaptive immunity is also essential to cure C. burnetii infection, as demonstrated by clinical studies and animal models. Indeed, the control of infection in patients with primary Q fever involves a systemic cell-mediated immune response and granuloma formation with an essential role for interferon-γ in the protection against C. burnetii. In contrast, chronic Q fever is characterized by defective cell-mediated immunity with the defective formation of granulomas and over-production of interleukin-10, an immunoregulatory cytokine. Finally, epidemiological data demonstrate that age and gender are risk factors for Q fever. The analysis of gene expression programs in mice reveals the importance of sex-related genes in C. burnetii infection because only 14% of the modulated genes are sex-independent, while the remaining 86% are differentially expressed in males and females. These results open a new field to understand how host metabolism controls C. burnetii infection in humans.


Age Antibodies Coxiella burnetii Cytokines Gender Granulomas Macrophages Q fever T lymphocytes 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Unité de Recherche sur les Maladies Infectieuses Transmissibles et Emergentes, CNRS-IRD UMR 6236, Institut Fédératif de Recherche 48, Faculté de MédecineUniversité de la MéditerranéeMarseilleFrance

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