Demonstration of chlamydial RNA and DNA during a culture-negative state

S. M. Holland, A. P. Hudson, L. Bobo, J. A. Whittum-Hudson, R. P. Viscidi, T. C. Quinn, H. R. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Trachoma is a common blinding disease of humans caused by ocular infections with Chlamydia trachomatis. The cynomolgus monkey is a valuable primate model for the detection, pathobiology, and treatment of this infection. We have used this model system to compare the relative ability of tissue culture, direct fluorescence cytology, a modified polymerase chain reaction, and RNA blotting to detect C. trachomatis following primary infection and reinfection over 34 weeks. Six cynomolgus monkeys were given a primary ocular chlamydia infection, and 20 weeks later they were reinoculated with the same organism. All animals showed brisk inflammatory responses to the primary infection and milder inflammatory reactions to reinfection. All four diagnostic techniques detected chlamydia at 1 week after primary infection, but both nucleic acid detection methods suggested that organisms were present longer after primary infection than did either tissue culture or direct fluorescence cytology (16 weeks for RNA blotting versus 12 weeks for tissue culture). Following reinoculation at 20 weeks, the period of C. trachomatis detection by tissue culture or direct fluorescence cytology (4 weeks) was much shorter than after primary infection. In contrast, nucleic acid detection was positive for up to 5 weeks longer than tissue culture or direct fluorescence cytology. Both polymerase chain reaction and RNA blotting, which involved no amplification step, indicated the presence of organisms during the culture-negative period. These data suggest that live chlamydiae may remain at a site of infection and produce inflammation beyond the time at which standard microbiological techniques are able to detect them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2040-2047
Number of pages8
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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