Chlamydia infections often follow an asymptomatic course but may damage the reproductive tract. Chlamydia antibodies in serum are used as markers for past infections and can relate to tubal pathology and infertility. This "proof of principle" study aimed to assess whether Chlamydia antibodies are detectable in easier to obtain, noninvasive, vaginal mucosa samples and relate to current or past infection.
We compared outcomes of Chlamydia IgG and IgA antibody tests in serum and vaginal mucosal swabs in (a) 77 women attending a fertility clinic, of whom 25 tested positive for serum-IgG and (b) 107 women visiting an STI centre, including 30 Chlamydia PCR-positive subjects.
In the STI clinic, active Chlamydia infections were linked to serum-IgG and serum-IgA (P < 0.001) and mucosa-IgA (P < 0.001), but not mucosa-IgG. In the fertility clinic, mucosa-IgG had stronger correlations with serum-IgG (P = 0.02) than mucosa-IgA (P = 0.06). Women with tubal pathology or Chlamydia history more commonly had serum-IgG and mucosa-IgA (both P < 0.001), whereas this link was weaker for mucosa-IgG (P = 0.03).
Chlamydia IgG and IgA are detectable in vaginal mucosal material. Serum-IgG had stronger associations with current or past infections. Mucosa-IgA also showed associations with (past) infection and complications. IgA presence in vaginal mucosa warrants further epidemiological studies.