The molecular mechanisms of resistance to genital infection with the mouse pneumonitis (MoPn) strain of Chlamydia trachomatis are unknown. A role for major histocompatibility complex class II-restricted, interleukin-12-dependent CD4+ T cells has been established, but the functional activity of these cells does not depend on secretion of gamma interferon. Here we examined the potential contribution of T-cell-mediated cytotoxicity and apoptosis to mucosal clearance of MoPn by using mice deficient in the molecular mediators of target cell lysis. Animals lacking perforin, Fas, Fas ligand, or both perforin and Fas ligand were infected genitally with C. trachomatis MoPn and monitored for expression of immunity to chlamydial antigens and clearance of MoPn from the genital mucosa. In each case, the profile of spleen cytokine production, the magnitude of the host antibody response, and the kinetics of chlamydial clearance were similar to those of genetically intact controls. Compensatory overproduction of tumor necrosis factor alpha, an alternate mediator of apoptosis in certain cell types, did not appear to account for the ability of mutant mice to resolve Chlamydia infections. These results fail to support CD4+ T-cell-mediated apoptosis or CD8+ T-cell-mediated cytotoxicity as being critical to the clearance of C. trachomatis MoPn urogenital infections
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