Summary: Primary cultures of human endometrial and ectocervical epithelial cells were examined as a new model system to study genital infection by . Initial studies demonstrated that these cells were indeed susceptible to chlamydial infection. Inocula, adjusted to produce inclusions in 50 to 80% of equivalent numbers of standard McCoy cells, resulted in infection rates of approximately 15 to 30% for the columnar cells of the endometrium and 5 to 10% for the squamous cells of the ectocervix. Exposure of cultures to DEAE-dextran and centrifugation-assisted inoculation, manipulations reported to enhance infection of HeLa and McCoy cells, did not alter the number of inclusion-positive genital cells. Addition of cycloheximide to the post-inoculation culture medium slightly increased numbers of inclusion-bearing cells while growth of genital cells in hormone-supplemented medium resulted in a variable effect on inclusion development and a significant reduction in the association of radiolabelled organisms with these cells. The basis for the different levels of infection in McCoy versus genital cell cultures was revealed by immunofluorescence analysis of chlamydial association with host cells immediately after inoculation. Chlamydiae failed to adhere to many cells in the genital cell cultures while adherence to McCoy cells was uniform. In addition, the association of radiolabelled was significantly lower with genital cells than with McCoy cells. Finally, culture conditions were defined which markedly inhibited inclusion development without an immediate loss of chlamydial growth potential. This investigation indicates that primary genital cell cultures are susceptible to chlamydial infection and will be valuable for studies on the nature of interactions with natural human target cells.


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