Chronic Chlamydia pneumoniae infection and asthma exacerbations in children

Adam Cunningham, S L Johnston, S A Julious, F C Lampe, M E Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

205 Citations (Scopus)


This study was undertaken to investigate the reported association between Chlamydia pneumoniae and Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection and the expression of asthma-related symptoms. One hundred and eight children with asthma symptoms, aged 9-11 yrs, completed a 13 month longitudinal study. The children maintained a daily diary of respiratory symptoms and peak flow rates. When respiratory symptoms were reported an investigator was called and a nasal aspirate obtained. In total 292 episodes were reported. After the study 65 children provided samples when asymptomatic. The presence of infection was investigated by the polymerase chain reaction for C. pneumoniae and M. pneumoniae and C. pneumoniae secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA) was detected by amplified enzyme immunoassay. C. pneumoniae detections were similar between the symptomatic and asymptomatic episodes (23 versus 28%, respectively). Children who reported multiple episodes also tended to remain PCR positive for C. pneumoniae suggesting chronic infection (p< 0.02). C. pneumoniae-specific secretory-IgA antibodies were more than seven times greater in subjects who reported four or more exacerbations in the study compared to those who reported just one (p<0.02). M. pneumoniae was found in two of 292 reports and in two of 65 asymptomatic samples. In conclusion, chronic Chlamydia pneumoniae infection is common in schoolage children and immune responses to C. pneumoniae are positively associated with frequency of asthma exacerbations. We suggest that the immune response to chronic C. pneumoniae infection may interact with allergic inflammation to increase asthma symptoms. In contrast Mycoplasma pneumoniae was not found to be important in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-9
Number of pages5
JournalThe European respiratory journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1998


  • Antibodies, Fungal
  • Asthma
  • Child
  • Chlamydia Infections
  • Chlamydophila pneumoniae
  • Chronic Disease
  • DNA, Fungal
  • Humans
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae
  • Nasal Mucosa
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction


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