Date of Award

2-2013

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Microbiology

First Advisor

Wilmore C. Webley

Second Advisor

Michele M. klingbeil

Third Advisor

John M. Lopes

Subject Categories

Microbiology

Abstract

Asthma is the most common chronic respiratory disease affecting young children and adults all over the world. An estimated 34.1 million Americans have reported asthma in their lifetime and the disease costs ~US $56 billion dollars to treat each year. Current treatment is based on a paradigm of asthma as a non-infectious atopic condition whose root cause is inflammation. Chronically administered anti-inflammatory medications, primarily inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), ameliorate asthma symptoms in many patients. However, up to 50% of asthmatics, characterized by neutrophil infiltration, IL-17 secretion and increased risk of fatality are refractory to ICS treatment. Chlamydia pneumoniae, a ubiquitous, obligate intracellular pathogen with an innate propensity to persist and cause chronic infections, along with Mycoplasma pneumoniae have been implicated in the development of chronic, refractory asthma. C. pneumoniae infections are common in infants and young children, often coinciding with the development of early onset asthma in the population.

These facts lead the Webley lab to evaluate the carriage of Chlamydia in pediatric respiratory disease patients and the work confirmed that respiratory infections caused by Chlamydia is a significant risk factor in asthma development and live Chlamydia was isolated from the lungs of children with chronic asthma. However, the exact mechanism underlying chlamydial involvement in the disease remained unknown and we believed that a better understanding could shed important light on expanded treatment options and mechanisms of this infectious asthma phenotype. The work presented here provides new insight into how (1) early life chlamydial infection can lead to asthma initiation and exacerbation (2) respiratory chlamydial infection induces cellular and chemical immune responses that support asthmatic inflammation (3) other respiratory pathogens (eg. Mycoplasma) can drive similar immunological responses resulting in significant lung pathology.

Included in

Microbiology Commons

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