AIMS: To attempt to detect Chlamydia pneumoniae DNA in atheromatous vascular tissue. METHODS: A modification of an existing polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay and immunofluorescence staining with a monoclonal antibody directed against C pneumoniae were used to detect C pneumoniae. Specimens from 32 patients undergoing abdominal aortic aneurysm repair were examined. Vascular tissue, ostensibly normal, from six liver transplant donors was also examined for comparison. Altogether, 43 vessels from these 38 subjects (age range 36-85 years) were examined. RESULTS: C pneumoniae was detected in 11 (44%) of 25 aortas, five (55%) of nine iliac arteries, two (40%) of five femoral arteries, and one of two iliac veins. Immunofluorescence staining supported positive PCR results in three of 12 cases in which it was used. Overall, C pneumoniae was detected in the arteries of 14 (44%) of the patients undergoing vascular surgery and three (50%) of the donors. CONCLUSIONS: This study is the first in the UK in which C pneumoniae organisms have been found in atherosclerotic vessels and the tendency for the organisms to be present most often in such vessels exhibiting chronic inflammatory changes suggests that a search for them in various forms of arteritis may also be rewarding.
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