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Development of a vaccine for Chlamydia trachomatis: challenges and current progress

Authors Hafner L, Timms P

Received 7 May 2015

Accepted for publication 17 June 2015

Published 17 August 2015 Volume 2015:5 Pages 45—58


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Professor Don Diamond

Louise M Hafner,1 Peter Timms2

1School of Biomedical Sciences, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Faculty of Health, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, 2Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore DC, QLD, Australia

Abstract: Chlamydia trachomatis remains an enigmatic bacterial pathogen with no vaccine yet available to treat human ocular and genital tract infections caused by tissue-tropic serovars of the organism. Globally, it is the leading cause of preventable blindness as well as the leading cause of bacterial sexually transmitted infections. The pathogen has a range of virulence factors that enable it to successfully evade both the innate and adaptive immune system of the host. The host immune system, although protective, paradoxically is also associated closely with the pathologies of trachoma and pelvic inflammatory disease – disease sequelae of some chlamydial infections and reinfections in some genetically susceptible hosts. In this review, we focus on what is known currently about the pathogenesis of ocular and genital infections caused by this mucosal pathogen. We also discuss novel insights into the pathogenesis of infections caused by the genital and ocular serovars of C. trachomatis, including a discussion of both pathogen and host factors, such as the human microbiota at these mucosal sites as well as the current immunological challenges facing vaccine development. Finally, we discuss the current progress toward development of a vaccine against C. trachomatis. A wide range of recombinant protein antigens are being identified and, hence, are available for vaccine trials. A plasmid-free live strain has recently been produced and evaluated in the mouse (Chlamydia muridarum) and monkey (C. trachomatis) models. The data for ocular infections in the monkey model was particularly encouraging, although the path to regulatory approval of a live vaccine is still uncertain. While still a major challenge, vaccines for ocular and genital C. trachomatis infections are looking more promising.

Keywords: C. trachomatis, ocular and genital infections

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