Chlamydial and human heat shock protein 60 homologues in acute coronary syndromes. (Auto-)immune reactions as a link between inf

Z Kardiol. 2003 Jun;92(6):455-65.

Chlamydial and human heat shock protein 60 homologues in acute coronary syndromes. (Auto-)immune reactions as a link between infection and atherosclerosis

[Article in German]

Andrie R, Braun P, Welsch U, Straube E, Hopp HW, Erdmann E, Luderitz B, Bauriedel G.

Medizinische Klinik und Poliklinik II, Universitatsklinikum Bonn, Sigmund-Freud-Str. 25, 53105 Bonn, Germany.

Recent studies provide evidence that infectious agents play a causal role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. In this respect, a chronic persistent Chlamydia pneumoniae infection, indicated by the presence of chlamydial heat shock protein 60 (cHSP 60), is of central interest. Both cHSP60 and endogenous human (h) HSP60 are upregulated under stress conditions in intimal cells and serve as a target for cross-reactive cytotoxic HSP-serum-antibodies. Therefore, the present study evaluates the expressions of both HSP60 homologues in advanced human coronary lesions and a correlation between intimal tissuebound protein and serum antibodies (Ab) to HSP65. Coronary atherectomy specimens retrieved from 114 primary target lesions of patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS; n=46) or stable angina (SA; n=68) were assessed immunohistochemically for the presence of cHSP60 and hHSP60. Chronic persistency of Chlamydia pneumoniae was additionally examined by transmission electron microscopy. Blood samples from30 patients were tested for anti-Chlamydia pneumoniae-IgG/IgA- and anti-HSP65-Ab titers and for serum CRP levels. Coronary plaques revealed immunoreactive cHSP60 in 47% and hHSP60 in 57% of the lesions colocalized within macrophages/foam cells. Chlamydia in foam cells most often presented ultrastructural patterns that pointed to the persistency of the pathogen. Intact, non-atherosclerotic vessels showed no signals. Mean expressions were 3.1% for cHSP60 and 3.3% for hHSP60. As a central finding, the expression of both HSP homologues was significantly (each p<0.001) higher in ACS lesions compared to SA lesions (cHSP60: 6.2 vs 1.0%, and hHSP60: 7.2 vs 0.7%). Moreover, we found positive correlations between both determinants in ACS and SA lesions (r=0.41, r=0.37; p<0.01). Most interestingly, cHSP60 revealed no relationship with anti-Chlamydia pneumoniae-IgG/IgA titers, whereas expression of cHSP60 as well as that of hHSP60 correlated with anti-HSP65-Ab titers (r=0.50, p<0.01, and r=0.42, p<0.05, respectively).cHSP60 and hHSP60 colocalize within coronary primary atheroma, most prevalent in lesions associated with ACS. For the first time, our data demonstrate a significant correlation between the intimal expression of these HSP60 homologues and serum HSP65 antibodies, thereby suggesting that humoral immune reactions to bacterial and human HSPs may play an important role in coronary atherosclerosis and plaque instability.
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