Chlamydia pneumoniae and asthma and atherosclerosis: role of macrolides

  • Margaret R. Hammerschlag
Part of the Milestones in Drug Therapy MDT book series (MDT)


Chlamydia pneumoniae was first described as a respiratory tract pathogen by Grayston and colleagues in 1986 [1]. The genus Chlamydiae is a group of obligate intracellular parasites that have a unique developmental cycle with morphologically distinct infectious and reproductive forms. All members of the genus have a gram-negative envelope without peptidoglycan, share a genus-specific lipopolysaccharide (LPS) antigen, and utilize host ATP for the synthesis of chlamydial protein. The genus now contains four species: Chlamydia psittaci, C. trachomatis, C. pneumoniae, and C. pecorum. Macrolide antibiotics have long been used for treatment of infections due to C. trachomatis, and, by extrapolation, they have been used for treatment of C. pneumoniae infections. Macrolide antibiotics, especially the newer agents, have a number of properties that make them ideal agents for the treatment of infections due to intracellular pathogens such as C. pneumoniae. They achieve high concentrations in tissue and cells, including polymorphonuclear leukocytes and macrophages. These drugs also have long half-lives in tissue, allowing once-daily dosing and shorter duration of therapy. However, data on the treatment of even respiratory infection due to C. pneumoniae is limited. Although currently available macrolides have good activity against C. pneumoniae in vitro, the majority of published treatment studies have relied on serologic diagnosis, and thus microbiological efficacy has not been assessed [2].


Antimicrob Agent Macrolide Antibiotic Obligate Intracellular Parasite Respiratory Tract Pathogen Chlamydia Psittaci 
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Copyright information

© Springer Basel AG 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret R. Hammerschlag
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Infectious Diseases,Department of PediatricsSUNY Health Science Center at BrooklynBrooklynUSA

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