CONTACT: BECKY SOGLIN
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-6660; fax (319) 335-8034
Release: August 3, 1999
UI gynecologist receives grant to study chlamydia and
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A University of Iowa Health Care
gynecologist has received a three-year $245,000 grant from the National Institute
of Child Health and Human Development, part of the National Institutes of
Health, to study how the sexually transmitted disease (STD) chlamydia causes
tubal factor infertility.
Chlamydia is the most common bacterial infection in
the United States, with teens and young adults among the most infected, according
to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Kevin Ault, M.D., UI assistant professor of obstetrics
and gynecology, received the grant Aug. 1 as part of a Mentored Clinical Scientist
Development Award. The award is designed to help physicians conduct laboratory
research related to their clinical areas of expertise. Michael A. Apicella,
M.D., UI professor and head of microbiology, will serve as Ault's mentor.
"Previous research has shown that chlamydia causes
almost all cases of damage to the fallopian tubes," Ault said. "This grant
will help us study how the immune response to the chlamydia infection actually
causes the damage."
Damage to the fallopian tubes accounts for about 23
percent of all infertility cases nationwide. The other leading common reasons
for infertility are sperm or ovulation (release of an egg) problems. Using
blood samples drawn from women with infertility, Ault will study lymphocytes,
white blood cells that respond to infection.
Chlamydia is considered the "stealth bomber" of STDs,
Ault said, because it does not cause symptoms in about 75 percent of women
and 50 percent of men infected with the disease. Women who contract the STD
in their teens or early 20s often do not learn they have the disease until
they are in their late 20s or early 30s and try unsuccessfully to conceive
children. Men who contract the disease can pass it on to their partners.
"The fallopian tubes are very fine structures," Ault
explained. "Normally, cilia lining the tubes help bring the egg and sperm
together. But in women who have had chlamdyia, the tubes are stiff and scarred,
and the cilia are damaged."