Anja Lührmann

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Anja Lührmann

Department of Clinical Microbiology, Immunology and Hygiene
Chair of Microbiology and Infection Immunology (Prof. Dr. Bogdan)

Room: Room 0.019
Wasserturmstr. 3
91054 Erlangen

Research area:

Coxiella burnetii – citrate – itaconate – hypoxia – persistence

Induction and regulation of Coxiella burnetii persistence by microenvironmental factors

Coxiella (C.) burnetii is the causative agent of the zoonotic disease Q fever, which can be either acute or chronic. While acute Q fever is a flu-like illness, chronic Q fever mainly manifest as a potentially life-treating endocarditis month or years after primary infection. The period prior outbreak of chronic Q fever is characterized by bacterial persistence, a physiologically dormant state that can cause relapsing infections and antibiotic resistance. Currently, it is unknown how C. burnetii persistence is induced or regulated.

We hypothesize that micromilieu factors are decisive for the outcome of C. burnetii infection. Indeed, host cell metabolites influences bacterial infection. The TCA metabolite citrate support bacterial replication, while itaconate has anti-bacterial activity. In addition, our results suggest that a micromilieu with reduced oxygen availability (hypoxia) induces C. burnetii persistence. We are currently investigating how hypoxia influences the host cell metabolism and immune response during infection. Furthermore, we are characterizing the state of bacterial persistence. Thus, we are performing EM analysis, qRT-PCR and sequencing experiment and antibiotic resistance assays. In addition, we are investigating the ability of persistent bacteria to infect cells and resist elimination by the host cells.