AIMS--To examine the role of Chlamydia trachomatis in ectopic pregnancy by detection of DNA in archival salpingectomy specimens, and in their preceding cervical specimens and endometrial biopsies, by using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). METHODS--Archival paraffin embedded salpingectomy tissues (n = 48) from 37 women with ectopic pregnancy were examined for the presence of C trachomatis plasmid and omp1 DNA by PCR. In addition, preceding cervical specimens (n = 58) stored either as cervical cell suspensions or as archival cervical smears, and preceding endometrial biopsies (n = 18), taken 0-5.8 years before the ectopic pregnancy, were examined by PCR for the presence of C trachomatis. RESULTS--C trachomatis DNA was detected in only one of the 48 salpingectomy specimens from 37 women. However, in six of the 37 women, C trachomatis DNA was detected in the genital specimens (cervix and/or endometrial) taken before salpingectomy. C trachomatis infections were mostly found in endometrial or cervical specimens taken more than three years before ectopic pregnancy. No chlamydial DNA was found in endometrial or cervical specimens taken at the same time of the ectopic pregnancy. CONCLUSIONS--Although no C trachomatis DNA was found in salpingectomy specimens, several women with ectopic pregnancy had C trachomatis infections in endometrial and cervical specimens in the past. This suggests that at least in these cases the ectopic pregnancy is a late post-inflammatory complication of an ascending C trachomatis infection resulting in a scarred fallopian tube.
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