Relation of Chlamydia pneumoniae serology to mortality and incidence of ischaemic heart disease over 13 years in the Caerphilly prospective heart disease study

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To investigate the effect of Chlamydia pneumoniae infection on future development of ischaemic heart disease and mortality.


Prospective longitudinal study.


Caerphilly, South Wales.


Plasma specimens were collected during 1979-83 from 1773 men aged 45-59 years. These were tested for IgG and IgA antibodies to C pneumoniae (TW183) by microimmunofluorescence.

Outcome measures

13 year mortality and incident ischaemic heart disease events were ascertained from death certificates, hospital records, and electrocardiographic changes at follow up every 4 to 5 years.


642 men (36.2%) had IgG antibodies at a titre of >or=to1 in 16, of whom 362 (20.4% of all men) also had detectable IgA antibodies. The prevalence of ischaemic heart disease (a history of past or current disease) at entry was similar at all IgG antibody titres but was positively related to IgA antibody titre. IgA antibody titre was positively correlated with plasma viscosity but not with other cardiovascular risk factors. Incidence of ischaemic heart disease was not associated with either IgG antibody titre or IgA antibody titre, but there were stronger and significant relations of IgA antibodies with all cause mortality and fatal ischaemic heart disease, which persisted after adjustment for conventional cardiovascular risk factors. The odds ratios associated with detectable IgA antibodies were 1.07 (95% confidence interval 0.75 to 1.53) for all incident ischaemic heart disease, 1.83 (1.17 to 2.85) for fatal ischaemic heart disease, and 1.50 (1.10 to 2.04) for all cause mortality.


This is the first prospective demonstration of an association between IgA antibodies to C pneumoniae, a putative marker of chronic infection, and subsequent risk of death from ischaemic heart disease. In contrast to earlier case-control studies, IgG antibodies were not associated with either prevalent or incident ischaemic heart disease.

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