Differences in local immune cell landscape between Q fever and atherosclerotic abdominal aortic aneurysms identified by multiplex immunohistochemistry

Kimberley R.G. Cortenbach, Alexander H.J. Staal, Teske Schoffelen, Mark A.J. Gorris, Lieke L. Van der Woude, Anne F.M. Jansen, Paul Poyck, Robert Jan Van Suylen, Peter C. Wever, Chantal P. Bleeker-Rovers, Mangala Srinivas, Konnie M. Hebeda, Marcel van Deuren, Jos W. Van der Meer, Jolanda M. de Vries, Roland R.J. Van Kimmenade*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Chronic Q fever is a zoonosis caused by the bacterium Coxiella burnetii which can manifest as infection of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). Antibiotic therapy often fails, resulting in severe morbidity and high mortality. Whereas previous studies have focused on inflammatory processes in blood, the aim of this study was to investigate local inflammation in aortic tissue. Methods: Multiplex immunohistochemistry was used to investigate local inflammation in Q fever AAAs compared to atherosclerotic AAAs in aorta tissue specimen. Two six-plex panels were used to study both the innate and adaptive immune systems. Results: Q fever AAAs and atherosclerotic AAAs contained similar numbers of CD68+ macrophages and CD3+ T cells. However, in Q fever AAAs, the number of CD68+CD206+ M2 macrophages was increased, while expression of GM-CSF was decreased compared to atherosclerotic AAAs. Furthermore, Q fever AAAs showed an increase in both the number of CD8+ cytotoxic T cells and CD3+CD8-FoxP3+ regulatory T cells. Finally, Q fever AAAs did not contain any well-defined granulomas. Conclusions: These findings demonstrate that despite the presence of pro-inflammatory effector cells, persistent local infection with C. burnetii is associated with an immune-suppressed microenvironment. Funding: This work was supported by SCAN consortium: European Research Area-CardioVascualar Diseases (ERA-CVD) grant [JTC2017-044] and TTW-NWO open technology grant [STW-14716].

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere72486
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2022


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