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Chlamydia and infertility a review of literature

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  • 1. Chlamydia and Infertility- A Review of literature DR SATHYA
  • 2.  Chlamydia trachomatis is considered the most prevalent sexually transmitted disease (STD) worldwide, its true incidence and prevalence are not known.  The majority of women remains asymptomatic and therefore undiagnosed .  In a systematic review reporting on C. trachomatis among asymptomatic European women the prevalence ranged from 1.7 to 17%
  • 3.  Reported rates of genital chlamydia infections are rising, but it is unclear whether this is due to increased testing or to a true increase in incidence  IRR Mumbai 2006  Three hundred and five women aged between 19 and 41.  Endocervical smears -chlamydial antigen using fluorescein-labelled monoclonal antibody.
  • 4.  Chlamydial antigen was detected in cervical smears from 47 (15%) women.  On gynaecological examination 25 women (53%) had minor signs such as erosion or cervicitis and  only 1 (2%) had uterine tenderness suggestive of mild pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • 5. infertility.  IJMR 2006  Women of primary and secondary infertility (n=110) and 30 healthy term pregnant women as control group.  HSG was performed in all patients.  Endocervical swabs were collected for culture on cycloheximide treated McCoy cell line and for antigen detection by ELISA.
  • 6.  C. trachomatis was detected in 31 (28.1%) of the 110 infertile women while one (3.3%) in control group was positive for C. trachomatis (P<0.01).
  • 7.  Chlamydial positivity was seen in 20 of the 74 (27%) women with primary infertility and in 11 of the 36 (30.6%) with secondary infertility.  38 per cent women with chlamydial infection also had tubal occlusion.
  • 8.  A significantly high rate of C. trachomatis infection was found in infertile women and more so in secondary infertility cases.  Screening of infertile women for C. trachomatis is therefore recommended so far early therapeutic interventions.
  • 9. women with secondary infertility.  Fertil Steril 2009  Forty women with secondary infertility, and 30 healthy women controls.  Chlamydia IgG was detected by ELISA
  • 10.  IgG antibodies 22 (55%) women with secondary infertility, 2 (5.5%) controls.  Tubal occlusion 16 (63.6%) cases positive for chlamydial antibody.  Sensitivity of chlamydial IgG antibody as a diagnostic marker for infertility was 72.7%, and specificity was 44.4%.
  • 11.  The majority of Chlamydia IgG antibody-positive cases, 17 (77.2%), were symptomatic.
  • 12.  Prevalence of past chlamydial infection is strongly statistically significant in women with secondary infertility.  Immunoglobulin G antibody detection is an effective and noninvasive tool for detection of Chlamydia.  Screening of women with secondary infertility for C. trachomatis is strongly recommended to allow early therapeutic interventions.
  • 13.  The risk of developing late complications after chlamydia lower genital tract infection appears low.  High quality RCTs dealing with the transition from cervicitis to infertility are needed to broaden the evidence.  In screening programmes, chlamydia antibody testing, as an intermediate marker for potential adverse sequelae, might enable more precise estimates.
  • 14.  If recognized, a chlamydia infection in the lower genital tract can be treated effectively and easily by antibiotics.  Even if the infection remains unrecognized it does not always cause serious sequelae.  Spontaneous clearance rates of 30–50% in the first 2–3 years
  • 15.  For tubal tissue damage to occur, prolonged exposure to chlamydia is considered a major predisposing factor, either by chronic persistent infection or by frequent reinfections
  • 16.  It has been hypothesized that this prolonged or repeated exposure of the host to the micro-organism evokes a chronic low-grade auto-immune response which leads to chronic inflammation and subsequent tissue damage.
  • 17.  Besides behavioural factors and host genetics, specific chlamydia strains, called serovars, have also been suggested to affect the course of infection
  • 18.  After chlamydia urethritis, males may develop epididymitis but the contribution of epididymitis to male infertility is not well understood.  Adverse pregnancy outcomes which have been associated with uncomplicated chlamydia cervicitis include sporadic and recurrent miscarriage, preterm labour, premature rupture of the membranes and low birthweight, although reports show conflicting results
  • 19.  Chlamydia cervicitis may cause conjunctivitis, nasopharyngitis and pneumonia in newborns by vertical transmission .
  • 20.  When comparing the performances of chlamydia detection assays, NAAT is most sensitive (90–95%) and highly specific, followed by the new generation of DFA, EIA and the PACE 2 DNA-probe assays which are more or less equally sensitive (up to 85%), followed by culture (up to 80%), and finally the POC or rapid tests, which are quite insensitive (25–55%)
  • 21.  Test Sensitivity (%) Specificity (%) Detection limit       (no. of organisms) NAATa 90–95 DFAb 80–85 EIAc 60–85 DNA-probed 75–85 Cell culture 50–85 POCe 25–55 >99 >99 99 >99 100 >90 1–10 10–500 500–1000 500–1000 5–100 >10 000
  • 22.  Schematic representation of a chlamydia particle with different targets for diagnostic tests: major outer membrane protein (MOMP), lipopolysacharide (LPS), chlamydia plasmids (DNA and RNA), chlamydia chromosome (DNA and RNA).
  • 23. Antibody Testing  Different serological assays have been developed for the detection of antibodies to C. trachomatis.In these assays cross reaction occurs if LPS is used.  However, a correlation between antibody titres and the severity of tubal inflammation has been shown. IgG antibodies persist for years even after antibiotic treatment, and are considered as markers of a past infiltrating C. trachomatis infection.
  • 24.  Among women with clinical signs and symptoms of mild to moderate PID, antibodies to C. trachomatis were shown to be associated with reduced pregnancy rates.  The most accurate tests for CAT have a sensitivity of ∼60% for tubal pathology, whereas their specificity is 85–90%
  • 25. From LGTI to PID (%)  Authors  Van Valkengoed et al. (2004)  Rahm et al. (1986)  Scholes et al. (1996)  Rees (1980)  Stamm et al. (1984)  Ostergaard et al. (2000) 0.43 1.8 5 7.5 30 31
  • 26. From PID to Tubal Infertility  Weström et al. (1992)  Marrazzo et al. (1997)  Howell et al. (1998)  Paavonen et al. (1998) 11.4 10–20 12 20
  • 27. From LGTI to Tubal Infertility  Van Valkengoed et al. (2004) 0.02%  Summary estimate based on literature 0.1–6%  CATa-based calculations 0.1–4.6
  • 28.  Studies indicate that shares in total savings due to prevented cases of tubal infertility are 6–24%.
  • 29. Vaccine  The development of a chlamydia vaccine could significantly reduce the prevalence of infection.  In a scenario in which 80% of individuals are vaccinated by a 100% efficacious chlamydia vaccine which is assumed to provide long-term (10 years) immunity, chlamydia infection would be eradicated within 5 years after widespread introduction of the vaccine
  • 30.  Since many studies have shown that previous exposure to C. trachomatis does not provide significant immunity against re-infection, an effective vaccine against C. trachomatis would have to elicit an immune response that is superior to that which is provoked by natural infection.
  • 31.  The major challenge in developing a vaccine for C. trachomatis is generating one that can elicit sterilizing immunity, presumably by stimulating multiple immune effector responses, whereas avoiding immunopathology. Currently it is not expected that a C. trachomatis vaccine will be available within the next 10 years.
  • 32.  Presumptive treatment, a one-time or periodically given treatment for a presumed infection, has been suggested as a strategy to reduce prevalence of infections in high risk populations
  • 33.  The efficacy of prophylactic treatment has been studied in women undergoing induced abortion.  A meta-analysis showed that post-abortion infection could be reduced by half (RR 0.58; CI 0.47–0.71) and that prophylaxis is to be preferred over a screenand-treat strategy.
  • 34.  In a randomized study comparing prophylaxis against chlamydia, gonorrhoea and bacterial vaginosis versus a screen-and-treat strategy, antibiotic prophylaxis was concluded to be at least as effective as a screen-and-treat policy in minimising post-abortion infections and to be more costeffective
  • 35.  A disadvantage of universal prophylaxis is that infected women remain unnoticed and cannot be offered the benefits of partner notification and treatment.  A third strategy has been proposed, involving prophylaxis at the time of abortion followed by screening for gonorrhea and chlamydia to ensure adequate follow-up of treatment results and partner notification
  • 36.  Studies in women presenting at fertility clinics have shown that the prevalence of lower genital tract chlamydia infections is low (1.8%) .  Several years after chlamydia infections viable micro-organisms may still be present in the upper genital tract, which may be reactivated after uterine instrumentation (e.g. hysterosalpingography and laparoscopy with dye testing).
  • 37.  In subfertile women the presence of viable micro- organisms in the upper genital tract cannot be excluded by non-invasive means.  Therefore, single dose azithromycin as a prophylaxis has been recommended in all subfertile women before uterine instrumentation, instead of endocervical screening and treatment of positive cases only
  • 38. Conclusions  The majority of chlamydia-infected individuals are asymptomatic, and remain unnoticed and untreated.  Infected women may be at risk of gynaecological complications (e.g. PID and tubal infertility), and determine the reservoir for onward transmission in the population.  Strategies for the control of infection and prevention of its complications are only partially effective (safer sex campaigns) or not yet available (vaccine).
  • 39.  Cost-effectiveness of screening is largely determined by the rates of complications prevented.  Evidence on the impact of screening on the prevalence of chlamydia infections at a population level is still limited, as is the impact on the prevalence of complications in screened women.
  • 40.  The risk of developing PID after lower genital tract infection varies considerably and is estimated between (less than) 1% up to 30%. Difference in estimates is largely determined by the characteristics of the tests used (e.g. PCR or culture) and the populations tested
  • 41.  The risk of developing tubal infertility after PID is estimated at 10–20%, and from this it can be concluded that the risk to test-positive women of developing tubal infertility ranges between 0.1 and 6%.
  • 42.  A risk of tubal infertility after lower genital tract chlamydia infection in the range up to 4.6% when IgG antibody testing is included.  This is in line with assumptions in published cost- effectiveness analyses that generally indicate potentials for favourable cost-effectiveness for chlamydia screening.