Bronchial Chlamydia pneumoniae infection, markers of allergic inflammation and lung function in children

Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2001 Oct;12(5):257-65. doi: 10.1034/j.1399-3038.2001.00042.x.


A relationship between respiratory Chlamydia pneumoniae infection (RCPI) and bronchial asthma is under discussion. Our objective was to study the frequency of RCPI and whether it is associated with markers of asthma in children with recurrent or chronic bronchitis as well as pneumonia. One-hundred and forty-eight children who underwent bronchoscopy were enrolled; 42 children with additional respiratory infections were excluded. Therefore, 106 children were examined, regarding a RCPI, by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of tracheobronchial aspirate, eosinophilic inflammation of respiratory mucosa (cytology, eosinophilic cationic protein [ECP]), total serum immunoglobulin E (IgE) and specific IgE for six important allergens, as well as lung function tests if possible. There was a RCPI in 55 of 106 children (51.9%); 25.4% of PCR positives (14/55) were weakly positive (double cut-off), which was more prevalent in the 2-5-year age-group and teenagers. Children with RCPI, inclusive of weak positives, showed a milder eosinophilia of nasal mucosa than children without RCPI (5.58% vs. 9.35%, p=0.039). Eosinophilia of > or =13% in nasal- and/or bronchial swab, as a marker for respiratory allergy, was less frequent in patients with RCPI too (7.3% vs. 21.6%, p=0.035). There were no differences in ECP. Total IgE was lower in PCR-positive children (101 vs. 179 IU/ml, p=0.032). Specific IgE with a radioallergosorbent test (RAST) of at least class 3 (as a marker for a relevant allergy), as well as any RAST above zero (to characterize early forms of allergy), were both less frequent in the RCPI group. In contrast, weak positives showed the highest rates of sensitization, surpassing RCPI negatives. In lung-function tests, vital capacity was lower in RCPI patients (87.5% vs. 95.3%, p=0.045); all parameters characterizing obstructive disturbance tended to be higher. Weak positives had both the greatest reduction of vital capacity (75.3%) and the most impaired obstructive parameters. All differences were accentuated in children of 11-18 years of age. Hence, our results indicate that in the children selected, a RCPI is common and not associated with allergic respiratory inflammation. Weak positives, however, differ, having the highest rate of allergic sensitization, reduction of lung volume, and obstructive disturbance. This group might be important in clinically observed asthma after pneumonia caused by C. pneumoniae. In these children, early diagnosis and treatment of a RCPI is recommended.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / metabolism
  • Asthma / microbiology*
  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Blood Proteins / analysis
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / chemistry
  • Child
  • Child Welfare
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chlamydophila Infections / diagnosis
  • Chlamydophila pneumoniae*
  • Eosinophil Granule Proteins
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Pulmonary Eosinophilia / etiology
  • Pulmonary Eosinophilia / metabolism
  • Radioallergosorbent Test
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / metabolism
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / microbiology
  • Respiratory Mucosa / metabolism
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / metabolism
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / microbiology
  • Ribonucleases*


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Proteins
  • Eosinophil Granule Proteins
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Ribonucleases