Maraviroc, Celastrol and Azelastine Alter Chlamydia Trachomatis Development in HeLa Cells

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Introduction. Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct) is an obligate intracellular bacterium, causing a range of diseases in humans. Interactions between chlamydiae and antibiotics have been extensively studied in the past. Hypothesis/Gap statement: Chlamydial interactions with non-antibiotic drugs have received less attention and warrant further investigations. We hypothesized that selected cytokine inhibitors would alter Ct growth characteristics in HeLa cells. Aim. To investigate potential interactions between selected cytokine inhibitors and Ct development in vitro. Methodology. The CCR5 receptor antagonist maraviroc (Mara; clinically used as HIV treatment), the triterpenoid celastrol (Cel; used in traditional Chinese medicine) and the histamine H1 receptor antagonist azelastine (Az; clinically used to treat allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis) were used in a genital in vitro model of Ct serovar E infecting human adenocarcinoma cells (HeLa). Results. Initial analyses revealed no cytotoxicity of Mara up to 20 µM, Cel up to 1 µM and Az up to 20 µM. Mara exposure (1, 5, 10 and 20 µM) elicited a reduction of chlamydial inclusion numbers, while 10 µM reduced chlamydial infectivity. Cel 1 µM, as well as 10 and 20 µM Az, reduced chlamydial inclusion size, number and infectivity. Morphological immunofluorescence and ultrastructural analysis indicated that exposure to 20 µM Az disrupted chlamydial inclusion structure. Immunofluorescence evaluation of Cel-incubated inclusions showed reduced inclusion sizes whilst Mara incubation had no effect on inclusion morphology. Recovery assays demonstrated incomplete recovery of chlamydial infectivity and formation of structures resembling typical chlamydial inclusions upon Az removal. Conclusion. These observations indicate that distinct mechanisms might be involved in potential interactions of the drugs evaluated herein and highlight the need for continued investigation of the interaction of commonly used drugs with Chlamydia and its host.