Men and women have an equal oropharyngeal and anorectal Chlamydia trachomatis bacterial load: A Comparison of 3 Anatomic Sites

Juliën N A P Wijers*, Nicole H T M Dukers-Muijrers, Geneviève A F S van Liere, Jeanne A M C Dirks, Petra F G Wolffs, Christian J P A Hoebe

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background. The Chlamydia trachomatis bacterial load could have impact on transmission and sequelae. This is the first study providing comparison of C. trachomatis load at 3 anatomic sites estimated by cycle quantification (Cq) values.

Methods. Data from 7900 C trachomatis-positive samples were included (2012-2018). Cq value was used as an inversely proportional measure for C. trachomatis load. Multivariable linear regression analyses assessed differences in mean Cq values.

Results. Vaginal swabs had the lowest Cq values (31.0) followed by urine (32.5), anorectal swabs (34.0), and oropharyngeal swabs (36.8) (P < .001). Men and women had similar oropharyngeal (36.4 vs 37.3; P = .13) and anorectal (34.2 vs 33.9; P = .19) Cq values. Men (32.2) and women (30.7) aged = 25 years (P < .001). HIV-positive patients had higher urogenital Cq values than HIV-negative patients (33.8 vs 32.6; P < .03).

Conclusions. Men and women have a similar C. trachomatis load at extragenital locations arguing for similar transmission potential and clinical relevance. Older patients and HIV-coinfected patients had lower C. trachomatis load, suggesting exposure to previous C. trachornatis infections potentially leading to partial immunity reducing load.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1582-1589
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number9
Early online date16 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021


  • Chlamydia
  • bacterial load
  • urogenital
  • anorectal
  • oropharyngeal
  • extragenital

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