Induction of the Chlamydia Muridarum Stress/Persistence Response Increases Azithromycin Treatment Failure in a Murine Model of Infection

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Viable but noninfectious (stressed/persistent) chlamydiae are more resistant to azithromycin (AZM) in culture than are organisms in the normal developmental cycle. Chlamydia muridarum-infected mice were exposed to amoxicillin to induce the organisms to enter the persistent/stressed state and subsequently treated with AZM. AZM treatment failure was observed in 22% of persistently infected mice, with an average of 321,667 inclusion-forming units (IFU) shed after AZM treatment. Productively infected mice had a 9% rate of AZM treatment failure and shed an average of 12,083 IFU. These data suggest that stressed chlamydiae are more resistant to frontline antichlamydial drugs in vivo.