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New hypothesis proposed for how chlamydia might increase cancer and ectopic pregnancy risk

Press release issued: 25 August 2021

A review of evidence by researchers at the University of Bristol and University of Edinburgh has suggested a possible new means by which chlamydia could lead to an increased risk of cancer and ectopic pregnancy. The hypothesis also provides a possible explanation for how pelvic inflammatory disease may be triggered in some women.

The review, published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, looked at evidence from lab-based studies, animal models and clinical studies on the role of chlamydia in diseases of the reproductive tract.

The researchers’ analysis of the studies’ findings suggests that chlamydia induces a particular type of change in reproductive tract cells known as ‘epithelial to mesenchymal transition’ (EMT), which can lead to inflammation and cell growth. Their hypothesis is that this chlamydia-triggered cell change contributes to the development of further disease.

“Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that stimulates EMT, which may persist after the chlamydia infection has cleared,” explains Dr Paddy Horner from the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Behavioural Science and Evaluation at University of Bristol, who led the review.

Read the full University of Bristol press release

Further information


Is There a Hidden Burden of Disease as a Result of Epigenetic Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition Following Chlamydia trachomatis Genital Tract Infection?’ by Paddy Horner, Heather Flanagan and Andrew Horne in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

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