Influence of Clarithromycin on Early Atherosclerotic Lesions after Chlamydia pneumoniae Infection in a Rabbit Model
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Chlamydia pneumoniae may play a role in atherogenesis and vascular diseases, and antibiotics may prove useful in these conditions. Three groups of New Zealand White rabbits (24 per group) were infected via the nasopharynx with C. pneumoniae on three separate occasions (2 weeks apart). Group I was untreated and sacrificed at 12 weeks; group II received clarithromycin at 20 mg/kg/day for 8 days, beginning 5 days after each inoculation (early treatment); and group III received a similar dose of clarithromycin starting 2 weeks after the third inoculation and continued for 6 weeks thereafter (delayed treatment). To test for a possible anti-inflammatory effect of clarithromycin, two other groups of uninfected rabbits (12 animals in each) were fed 0.5% cholesterol-enriched chow, and one of these groups was treated with clarithromycin at 30 mg/kg/day for 6 weeks. Of 23 untreated infected rabbits, 8 developed early lesions of atherosclerosis, whereas 2 of the 24 early-treated group II had similar changes (P = 0.036 [75% efficacy]). However, in the delayed-treatment group, group III, 3 of 24 rabbits developed early lesions of atherosclerosis, thus demonstrating 62.5% reduction compared to the untreated controls (P = 0.07 [trend to statistical significance]). C. pneumoniae antigen was detected in 8 of 23 group I (untreated) rabbits versus 1 of 24 of the early-treated (group II) rabbits and 4 of 24 animals in the delayed group III (P = 0.009 and 0.138, respectively). All of the untreated, cholesterol-fed rabbits had moderate to advanced atherosclerosis (grade III or IV); clarithromycin had no effect on reducing the prevalence of but did reduce the extent of atherosclerosis in the cholesterol-fed rabbits by 17% compared to untreated controls. Thus, clarithromycin administration modified C. pneumoniae-induced atherosclerotic lesions and reduced the ability to detect organism in tissue. Early treatment was more effective than delayed treatment.
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