An association between chronic infection with Chlamydia pneumoniae and lung cancer. A prospective 2-year study

APMIS. 2001 Sep;109(9):572-80. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0463.2001.d01-177.x.


This study assesses a possible relationship between chronic Chlamydia pneumoniae (Cpn) infection and lung cancer (LC). A total of 210 consecutive patients (136 M, 74 F) were diagnosed with LC during a 2-year period. Blood was obtained from 128 M and 70 F patients for Cpn serology. Repeat blood specimens were taken after 3 months. Throat specimens for Cpn DNA analysis by PCR were taken from 110/136 M and 63/74 F Seventy-four cytobrush specimens were taken and also analyzed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Fifty (29 M, 21 F) bronchial biopsies and 8 (6 M, 2 F) tumors resected at surgery were analyzed for Cpn by immunohistochemistry (IHC). Males had significantly more often squamous-cell carcinoma (SCC) than females. Other types of LC were more equally distributed between males and females. The difference between males and females regarding smoking history was significant, and male LC patients had significantly higher levels of IgG and/or IgA antibodies than female LC patients. Male and female LC patients had significantly higher prevalences of high antibody titers than controls. A high prevalence of unusually high titers of specific Cpn antibodies was found in male LC patients. This could indicate that LC may be induced by chronic Cpn infection, since stable high titers of Cpn antibodies, especially IgA, are a hallmark of chronic infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / complications
  • Adenocarcinoma / epidemiology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / complications
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / complications
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / epidemiology
  • Chlamydophila Infections / blood
  • Chlamydophila Infections / complications*
  • Chlamydophila Infections / epidemiology
  • Chlamydophila pneumoniae*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / analysis
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis
  • Lung Neoplasms / complications*
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Sweden / epidemiology


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin G