Secretion of cytokines by human synoviocytes during in vitro infection with Chlamydia trachomatis

J Rheumatol. 1998 Nov;25(11):2161-8.


Objective: Since Chlamydia-induced reactive arthritis is associated with the presence of viable chlamydiae in the synovial membrane, we studied the ability of Chlamydia trachomatis to stimulate a cytokine response by fibroblast-like synoviocytes in culture.

Methods: Fibroblast-like cells derived from biopsies of the synovial membrane were infected with Chlamydia trachomatis serotype E. Interleukin-6 (IL-6), transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) were determined using bio-assays. Granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor (GMCSF) was quantified by ELISA.

Results: Fibroblast-like synovial cells were capable of supporting chlamydial growth in vitro. Chlamydia trachomatis stimulated synoviocytes to produce IL-6, TGF-beta, and GMCSF. IL-1beta increased the production of IL-6 and GMCSF by mock-infected and infected cells. Treatment of synoviocytes with interferon-gamma resulted in the release of TNF-alpha in response to chlamydial infection.

Conclusion: Chlamydia-induced cytokine release from synovial fibroblasts may contribute to alterations in the synovial membrane promoting the development of joint inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria
  • Biological Assay
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chlamydia Infections / metabolism*
  • Chlamydia Infections / pathology*
  • Chlamydia trachomatis* / growth & development
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / microbiology
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Synovial Membrane / drug effects
  • Synovial Membrane / metabolism*
  • Synovial Membrane / microbiology
  • Synovial Membrane / pathology*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-6
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor