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Contempo 1999
December 1, 1999

Chlamydia pneumoniae and Atherosclerosis

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: National Centre for Occupational Health (Drs Shor and Phillips) and South African Institute for Medical Research, School of Pathology, University of the Witwatersrand, (Dr Shor) Johannesburg, South Africa.


Edited by Margaret A. Winker, MD, Deputy Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 1999;282(21):2071-2073. doi:10.1001/jama.282.21.2071

Atherosclerosis is a major cause of stroke, coronary heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, and aortic aneurysm. Because of the prevalence and importance of these diseases, atherosclerotic lesions within arteries have been extensively studied.1,2 While many risk factors have been identified,1,2 the mechanism by which the lesions are formed remains unknown. The most popular concept is that the endothelium lining the lumen of the artery becomes damaged. This damage alters the properties of the endothelium and leads to a cascade of events culminating in fibrosis, necrosis, lipid accumulation, and eventually calcification. There have been several candidates forwarded as putative initiators of endothelial injury including microorganisms.1 Recent studies have shown an association between an obligate intracellular bacterium, Chlamydia pneumoniae, and atherosclerosis.3,4