Chlamydia trachomatis antigen induces TLR4-TAB1-mediated inflammation, but not cell death, in maternal decidua cells

Briana Ortiz, Ashley Driscoll, Ramkumar Menon, Brandie D. Taylor, Lauren S. Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: During gestation, the decidua is an essential layer of the maternal-fetal interface, providing immune support and maintaining inflammatory homeostasis. Although Chlamydia (C.) trachomatis is associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes the pathogenic effects on maternal decidua contributing to adverse events are not understood. This study examined how C. trachomatis antigen affects cell signaling, cell death, and inflammation in the decidua. Methods: Primary decidua cells (pDECs) from term, not-in-labor, fetal membrane-decidua were cultured using the following conditions: (1) control – standard cell culture conditions, (2) 100 ng/ml or (3) 200 ng/ml of C. trachomatis antigen to model decidual cell infection in vitro. Differential expression of Toll-like receptor (TLR) 4 (receptor for C. trachomatis antigen), signaling pathway markers phosphorylated TGF-Beta Activated Kinase 1 (PTAB1), TAB1, phosphorylated p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases (Pp38 MAPK), and p38 MAPK (western blot), decidual cell apoptosis and necrosis (flow cytometry), and inflammation (ELISA for cytokines) were determined in cells exposed to C. trachomatis antigen. T-test was used to assess statistical significance (p < 0.05). Results: C. trachomatis antigen significantly induced expression of TLR4 (p = 0.03) and activation of TAB1 (p = 0.02) compared to controls. However, it did not induce p38 MAPK activation. In addition, pDECs maintained their stromal cell morphology when exposed to C. trachomatis antigen showing no signs of apoptosis and/or necrosis but did induce pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-6 (100 ng/ml: p = 0.02 and 200 ng/ml: p = 0.03), in pDECs compared to controls. Conclusion: Prenatal C. trachomatis infection can produce antigens that induce TLR4-TAB1 signaling and IL-6 inflammation independent of Pp38 MAPK and apoptosis and necrosis. This suggests that C. trachomatis can imbalance decidual inflammatory homeostasis, potentially contributing to adverse events during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13664
JournalAmerican Journal of Reproductive Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • maternal-feto interface
  • placentation
  • sexually transmitted bacterial infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


Dive into the research topics of 'Chlamydia trachomatis antigen induces TLR4-TAB1-mediated inflammation, but not cell death, in maternal decidua cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this