Indexed on: 10 Jan '19Published on: 10 Jan '19Published in: PloS one
Chlamydia trachomatis infections are often associated with acute syndromes including cervicitis, urethritis, and endometritis, which can lead to chronic sequelae such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy, and tubal infertility. As epithelial cells are the primary cell type productively infected during genital tract Chlamydia infections, we investigated whether Chlamydia has any impact on the integrity of the host epithelial barrier as a possible mechanism to facilitate the dissemination of infection, and examined whether TLR3 function modulates its impact. We used wild-type and TLR3-deficient murine oviduct epithelial (OE) cells to ascertain whether C. muridarum infection had any effect on the epithelial barrier integrity of these cells as measured by transepithelial resistance (TER) and cell permeability assays. We next assessed whether infection impacted the transcription and protein function of the cellular tight-junction (TJ) genes for claudins1-4, ZO-1, JAM1 and occludin via quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) and western blot. qPCR, immunoblotting, transwell permeability assays, and TER studies show that Chlamydia compromises cellular TJ function throughout infection in murine OE cells and that TLR3 deficiency significantly exacerbates this effect. Our data show that TLR3 plays a role in modulating epithelial barrier function during Chlamydia infection of epithelial cells lining the genital tract. These findings propose a role for TLR3 signaling in maintaining the integrity of epithelial barrier function during genital tract Chlamydia infection, a function that we hypothesize is important in helping limit the chlamydial spread and subsequent genital tract pathology.