Background and current knowledge of Chlamydia pneumoniae and atherosclerosis

J Infect Dis. 2000 Jun;181 Suppl 3:S402-10. doi: 10.1086/315596.


Attributes of Chlamydia pneumoniae of potential importance to a relationship with atherosclerosis are described. Among these are that C. pneumoniae is not new. It is unique. It is a pathogen with which everyone is infected, and it is difficult to treat. It causes immunopathology, myocarditis, and endocarditis and chronicity is a hallmark of Chlamydia infection. Current knowledge of the relation of C. pneumoniae and atherosclerosis comes from observational (e.g., seroepidemiology and tissue studies) and experimental studies. The limitations of the serologic studies of chronic infection are noted as is the conclusive demonstration of an association of C. pneumoniae and atherosclerosis by the repeated and frequent finding of the organism in atherosclerotic tissue. Experimental studies are needed to determine if the association is causal. Such studies should include animal models, basic mechanisms, and secondary prevention antibiotic treatment trials.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Arteriosclerosis / etiology*
  • Arteriosclerosis / microbiology
  • Chlamydia Infections / complications*
  • Chlamydia Infections / drug therapy
  • Chlamydia Infections / epidemiology
  • Chlamydia Infections / microbiology
  • Chlamydia Infections / transmission
  • Chlamydophila pneumoniae* / immunology
  • Chlamydophila pneumoniae* / isolation & purification
  • Coronary Artery Disease / etiology*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / microbiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies


  • Antibodies, Bacterial