Immune Modulation with Non-thermal Plasma on Chlamydia pneumoniae Infected Respiratory Epithelial Cells

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences

First Advisor

Christopher Little, PhD

Second Advisor

Denah Appelt, PhD

Third Advisor

Brian Balin, PhD

Fourth Advisor

Gregory Fridman, PhD

Fifth Advisor

Vandana Miller, MD


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the world’s most common neurodegenerative brain disorder affecting millions of Americans. Of the two forms of AD, early and late onset (LOAD), LOAD is the more common form and affects 97 percent of patients suffering from AD. Although the underlying cause of LOAD is unknown, researchers hypothesize that infection, specifically with Chlamydia pneumoniae, an obligate intracellular bacterium that causes pneumonia, may be a key risk factor in the pathogenesis of LOAD. In 1998, Balin and colleagues discovered the presence of Chlamydia pneumoniae in 17 out of 19 AD affected cadaveric brains. In 2012, Ermolaeva and colleagues showed that non-thermal argon plasma treatment reduced the amount of a second chlamydial pathogen, Chlamydia trachomatis, in cells. Non-thermal plasma (NTP) treatment has been used in many different medical applications ranging from sterilization to stimulation of monocytes. The purpose of our study was to determine whether or not Chlamydia pneumoniae would be eradicated from BEAS-2B human epithelial cells by NTP without killing these host cells. The preliminary results from this pilot work are encouraging for the treatment of an intracellular Chlamydia pneumoniae infection. Our qPCR and immunofluorescence results show that NTP treatment decreased both the number of infected cells and the chlamydial burden within infected cells after treatment by NTP.

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