Humoral immune response to membrane components of Chlamydia trachomatis and expression of human 60 kDa heat shock protein in follicular fluid of in-vitro fertilization patients
Fertilization in Vitro
Recent evidence suggests that Chlamydia trachomatis can persist in the female upper genital tract in an unculturable state. Since unsuspected C. trachomatis infection has been associated with adverse in-vitro fertilization (IVF) outcome we sought to detect further evidence of C. trachomatis in the genital tracts of women undergoing IVF. The prevalence and distribution of antibodies to the major structural proteins of C. trachomatis in paired follicular fluid and sera of women undergoing IVF were examined. Sera and follicular fluid samples from 149 women were assayed for immunoglobulin (Ig)G and IgA antibodies to two C. trachomatis antigens, the major outer membrane protein (MOMP) and a recombinant lipopolysaccharide (rLPS) fragment. Additionally, the expression of human 60 kDa heat shock protein (hsp 60) in follicular fluid was determined. All cervical and follicular fluid samples were negative for C. trachomatis by polymerase chain reaction, ligase chain reaction and DNA probe. Sera from 60% of the subjects were positive for antichlamydial rLPS IgG; 36% were positive for anti-MOMP IgG. Similarly, rLPS-directed and MOMP-directed IgA were detected in sera of 34 and 14% of the subjects respectively. IgG antibodies to MOMP and rLPS were detected in 42 and 41% of the follicular fluid examined respectively. Anti-MOMP IgA was identified in 8.7% of the follicular fluid while 27.5% were positive for anti-rLPS IgA. Human hsp 60 expression was documented in 11.6% of the follicular fluid tested. IgA antibodies to both MOMP (P = 0.03) and rLPS (P = 0.02) in follicular fluid were associated with a failure to become pregnant after embryo transfer. IgG antibodies in sera and follicular fluid and IgA antibodies in sera were unrelated to IVF outcome. Similarly only anti-MOMP IgA (P = 0.02) and anti-rLPS IgA (P = 0.04) in follicular fluid were correlated with human hsp 60 expression in follicular fluid. The unique association between IgA antibodies to two chlamydial antigens in follicular fluid and both hsp 60 expression and IVF failure provides further support for the possibility that a persistent upper genital tract chlamydial infection contributes to IVF failure in some women.