Chlamydia trachomatis is an obligate intracellular, bacterial pathogen. C. trachomatis infections of the human reproductive tract affect approximately 127 million people globally each year. The major concern of C. trachomatis infections is their ability to cause infertility in both men and women, by damaging the upper reproductive tracts. Historically, Chlamydia has been considered more of a problem for women, but our recent research has shown the testes of men can be infected and this may contribute to idiopathic male infertility. Chlamydia was found in a large proportion of testicular biopsies from asymptomatic men attending IVF clinics for assistance with idiopathic male infertility. Serum samples matched to these testicular biopsy patients and their female partners may contain anti-chlamydial antibodies as a result of the infection and potentially transmission between partners. These antibodies may provide additional information about the infection, and may be able to be used as a marker of the testicular infection. This may be particularly useful for patients who have tested negative by conventional urine NAAT assay, as these infertility patients have.
Hypothesis: Serum anti-Chlamydia antibodies may provide infection kinetic information and diagnostic power for asymptomatic testicular infection.
Aim 1: To determine whether anti-Chlamydia antibodies against the genital serovars of C. trachomatis can be found in both male and female partners of Chlamydia-positive testicular biopsy patients.
Aim 2: To characterise whether antibodies detected are neutralising or contribute to enhancement of infection.
Aim 3: To determine whether the antibody titre, previously determined antibody information, and other patient characteristics can be used as diagnostic/prognostic markers for testicular infection and fertility.
Approaches/Skills and techniques
Mammalian cell culture, chlamydial cell culture, immunocytochemistry, epifluorescent microscopy, ELISA, blotting and other immunoassays, data anlsysis in GraphPad Prism, written and oral communication skills.
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