Host factors and genetic susceptibility to infections due to intracellular bacteria and fastidious organisms

S. A. Asner, S. A. Morre, P-Y Bochud, G. Greub*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


While genetic polymorphisms play a paramount role in tuberculosis (TB), less is known about their contribution to the severity of diseases caused by other intracellular bacteria and fastidious microorganisms. We searched electronic databases for observational studies reporting on host factors and genetic predisposition to infections caused by intracellular fastidious bacteria published up to 30 May 2014. The contribution of genetic polymorphisms was documented for TB. This includes genetic defects in the mononuclear phagocyte/T helper cell type 1 (Th1) pathway contributing to disseminated TB disease in children and genome-wide linkage analysis (GWAS) in reactivated pulmonary TB in adults. Similarly, experimental studies supported the role of host genetic factors in the clinical presentation of illnesses resulting from other fastidious intracellular bacteria. These include IL-6 -174G/C or low mannose-binding (MBL) polymorphisms, which are incriminated in chronic pulmonary conditions triggered by C.pneumoniae, type 2-like cytokine secretion polymorphisms, which are correlated with various clinical patterns of M.pneumoniae infections, and genetic variation in the NOD2 gene, which is an indicator of tubal pathology resulting from Chamydia trachomatis infections. Monocyte/macrophage migration and T lymphocyte recruitment defects are corroborated to ineffective granuloma formation observed among patients with chronic Q fever. Similar genetic polymorphisms have also been suggested for infections caused by T.whipplei although not confirmed yet. In conclusion, this review supports the paramount role of genetic factors in clinical presentations and severity of infections caused by intracellular fastidious bacteria. Genetic predisposition should be further explored through such as exome sequencing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1246-1253
JournalClinical Microbiology and Infection
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


  • C
  • burnetii
  • psittaci
  • trachomatis
  • genotyping
  • host genetics
  • intracellular bacteria
  • M
  • pneumoniae
  • molecular diagnosis
  • Mycobacteria
  • risk factors
  • T
  • whipplei

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