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Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) is a major cause of bacterial sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the United States. In 2010, a total of over 1 million chlamydial infections were reported to CDC. Complications caused by Chlamydia in women include pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancy and involuntary tubal factor infertility. Chlamydia infections also have a major economic impact in the US, with an estimated total cost of $701 million annually. Although chlamydiae are susceptible to antibiotics, the rampart asymptomatic infections often makes presentation of complications such as Tubal factor infertility (TFI) as the first indication of an infection, and resistant chlamydial strains may be emerging. My research focus involves elucidating the molecular mechanisms in the parthenogenesis of chlamydial infection.
I am currently involved in three projects which are all related
- This project involves the use of IL-10 deficient dendritic cell system which has a distinct advantage for studies of therapeutic strategies and vaccine development to define a set of host immune molecules that regulate the induction of optimum protective immunity against Chlamydia and determine their mechanism of immunomodulation. Identify a set of host molecules such as the inflammasomes that are involved in the immune pathogenesis of Chlamydia disease, and determine their mechanism of action. This study may provide biomarkers for use in drug treatment and vaccine development against chlamydial disease.
- This project involves studying the effect of caspase inhibition on infertility and the integrity of Dicer, a caspase-sensitive, fertility promoting ribonuclease III enzyme, and key micro-RNAs in the reproductive system of Ct infected mice. The results from this study will provide new insights into the molecular pathogenesis of TFI with significant implications for new strategies for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of chlamydial complications leading to TFI.
- This project proposes to investigate the role of vitamin D in ameliorating the effect of Chlamydia infection, by studying host immune molecules in infected HELA cells, genital tract pathology, inflammatory responses, and rate of pregnancy and fertility of chlamydial infected VDR knockout mice. The knowledge garnered from this study might be useful for designing part of the prevention strategies against Chlamydia by showing the necessity of screening for vitamin D levels as part of the general Chlamydia screening and might be an index of protection against infection as well as sequelae.