Can Serology Diagnose Upper Genital Tract Chlamydia trachomatis Infection?
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BACKGROUND: Upper genital tract chlamydial infections in women are on the increase, and serology might be a convenient tool for diagnosis. Evaluations of this approach are needed in women with or without microbiologic evidence of organisms in the upper genital tract. GOALS: To compare the results of antibody assays with cervical culture and upper genital tract histopathology in women with pelvic pain and chlamydial plasmid DNA in endometrial biopsies. STUDY DESIGN: Chlamydia trachomatis plasmid DNA was detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on extracted deparaffinized endometrial biopsy tissue. Five antichlamydial antibody assays were performed measuring total antibodies or immunoglobulin G (IgG), IgM, and IgA classes on sera from 14 women with plasmid DNA as well as 31 without plasmid DNA. RESULTS: Accepting the presence of plasmid DNA as the gold standard, no single test had total diagnostic accuracy. The best sensitivity and specificity occurred with the following assays: whole inclusion fluorescence (WIF) (100% and 80.6%); microimmunofluorescence IgM (MIF IgM) (78.6% and 93.6%); and heatshock protein-60 enzyme immunoassay (42.9% and 100%). Although recombinant anti-lipopolysaccharide enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays measured anti-chlamydial antibodies in a large proportion of these women, specificity was low. The sensitivity and specificity of cervical culture was 28.6% and 100% and of endometrial histopathology was 71.4% and 48.4%. Analysis of patient serological profiles suggested that and 6 women without plasmid DNA may have been cases that were missed by PCR. CONCLUSIONS: Evaluations of assays to diagnosis Chlamydia trachomatis upper genital tract infections could use the presence of organisms or their markers in the upper genital tract as a standard of comparison. Some of these serological assays, such as WIF or MIF IgM, may be helpful in diagnosis, but more studies are needed.
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