Detection of Chlamydia pneumoniae by polymerase chain reaction-enzyme immunoassay in intestinal mucosal biopsies from patients with inflammatory bowel disease and controls

J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2002 Sep;17(9):987-93. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1746.2002.02793.x.


Background and aim: It has been suggested that Chlamydia is an organism that may have the potential to cause inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in susceptible individuals. Chlamydia pneumoniae has emerged as an important human pathogen in the last decade. The objective of the present study was to investigate the frequency of the presence of C. pneumoniae DNA in intestinal biopsies from patients with IBD and from non-IBD controls.

Methods: The DNA was extracted from 222 colonoscopic biopsies, which were obtained from 11 patients with Crohn's disease (CD), 18 patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) and from 37 non-IBD control patients. The presence of the C. pneumoniae omp1 gene and C. trachomatis 16S rRNA gene was determined using a rapid and sensitive polymerase chain reaction-enzyme immunoassay (PCR-EIA).

Results: The C. pneumoniae-specific DNA was detected in 32 (14.4%) of 222 endoscopic biopsies. Among them, C. pneumoniae DNA were found in nine of 42 (21.4%) biopsies from patients with CD, nine of 59 (15.3%) biopsies from patients with UC, and 14 out of 122 (11.4%) biopsies from non-IBD control patients, respectively. Moreover, the percentage of patients with at least one biopsy positive for C. pneumoniae was higher, although not statistically significant, in CD (36.4%) and UC patients (38.9%) compared to non-IBD controls (16.2%). In contrast, C. trachomatis DNA was detected in only two of 222 (0.9%) biopsy samples.

Conclusion: The C. pneumoniae DNA was detected in the intestine of both patients with IBD and in non-IBD control patients, probably reflecting the high prevalence of this organism in the environment. The moderate yield of positive biopsies in our IBD patients and the fact that the detection rate of C. pneumoniae DNA was similar in endoscopic biopsies from IBD patients and non-IBD controls does not support a direct role for this organism in the pathogenesis of IBD.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy
  • Chlamydia Infections / microbiology*
  • Chlamydophila pneumoniae / genetics
  • Chlamydophila pneumoniae / isolation & purification*
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques / methods
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / microbiology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Prevalence
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • DNA, Bacterial