Background: Previous studies showed that C. trachomatis strains found in MSM are different from those in heterosexuals. This study investigates whether the differences in strain distribution between MSM and heterosexuals are due to tissue tropism.
Methods: C. trachomatis positive samples were collected from MSM (anorectal) and women (anorectal, cervical, vaginal, pharyngeal) visiting the STI outpatient clinic of Amsterdam between 2008 and 2013. All samples were typed using multilocus sequence typing (MLST). Epidemiological data were derived from electronic patient records.
Results: We obtained full MLST data for C. trachomatis from 207 MSM and 185 women, all with anorectal infections. Six large clusters were identified of which 3 consisted predominantly of samples from women (89%-100%), whereas the other 3 consisted predominantly of samples from MSM (97%-100%). Furthermore, we obtained full MLST data from 434 samples of 206 women with concurrent infections at multiple anatomical locations. No association was observed between C. trachomatis cluster and the anatomical location of infection.
Conclusion: We found no indication for tissue tropism in urogenital, pharyngeal and anorectal C. trachomatis infections. Combined with results from previously conducted studies, we hypothesize that MSM and heterosexuals have different distributions of C. trachomatis strains due to their separate sexual networks.