Effect of cold water-induced stress on immune response, pathology and fertility in mice duringChlamydia muridarumgenital infection

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Abstract

Genital infection by Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted disease worldwide. It causes serious reproductive health complications, including pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. Stress is implicated as a risk factor for various infections; however, its effect on chlamydia genital infection is unknown. We previously showed that repeated exposure of mice to cold water results in increased severity of chlamydia genital infection. In this study, cold water-induced stress resulted in (i) elevated levels of norepinephrine (NE) and epinephrine in the spleen and genital tract of stressed mice; (ii) elevated IL-1β, TNF-α, IL-6 and nitric oxide production in macrophage-rich peritoneal cells of mice; (iii) supplement of NE in vitro exerts an immunosuppressive effect on splenic T-cell production of cytokines; (iv) decreased C. muridarum shedding in the genital tract of β1Adr/β2Adr receptor KO mice; and (v) a higher rate of infertility in infected mice. These results suggest that cold water stress induces the production of catecholamines, which may play a critical role in the modulation of the immune system leading to increased intensity of C. muridarum genital infection.

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