Commonly Prescribed β-lactam Antibiotics Induce C.trachomatis Persistence/Stress in Culture at Physiologically Relevant Concentrations
Chlamydia trachomatis, the most common bacterial sexually transmitted disease agent worldwide, enters a viable, non-dividing and non-infectious state (historically termed persistence and more recently referred to as the chlamydial stress response) when exposed to penicillin G in culture. Notably, penicillin G-exposed chlamydiae can reenter the normal developmental cycle upon drug removal and are resistant to azithromycin-mediated killing. Because penicillin G is less frequently prescribed than other ß-lactams, the clinical relevance of penicillin G-induced chlamydial persistence/stress has been questioned. The goal of this study was to determine whether more commonly used penicillins also induce C. trachomatis serovar E persistence/stress. All penicillins tested, as well as clavulanic acid, induced formation of aberrant, enlarged reticulate bodies (RB) (called aberrant bodies or AB) characteristic of persistent/stressed chlamydiae. Exposure to the penicillins and clavulanic acid also reduced chlamydial infectivity by >95%. None of the drugs tested significantly reduced chlamydial unprocessed 16S rRNA or genomic DNA accumulation, indicating that the organisms were viable, though non-infectious. Finally, recovery assays demonstrated that chlamydiae rendered essentially non-infectious by exposure to ampicillin, amoxicillin, carbenicillin, piperacillin, penicillin V, and clavulanic acid recovered infectivity after antibiotic removal. These data definitively demonstrate that several commonly used penicillins induce C. trachomatis persistence/stress at clinically relevant concentrations.
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Kintner, Jennifer; Lajoie, Dawn; Hall, Jennifer; Whittimore, Judy; and Schoborg, Robert V.. 2014. Commonly Prescribed β-lactam Antibiotics Induce C.trachomatis Persistence/Stress in Culture at Physiologically Relevant Concentrations. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology. Vol.4 https://doi.org/10.3389/fcimb.2014.00044 PMID: 24783061
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