Background This is the first report to characterize the prevalence and genovar distribution of genital chlamydial infections among random heterosexual patients in the multi-ethnic Saratov Region, located in Southeast Russia. Methods Sixty-one clinical samples (cervical or urethral swabs) collected from a random cohort of 856 patients (7.1%) were C. trachomatis (CT) positive in commercial nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) and duplex TaqMan PCRs. Results Sequence analysis of the VDII region of the ompA gene revealed seven genovars of C. trachomatis in PCR-positive patients. The overall genovars were distributed as E (41.9%), G (21.6%), F (13.5%), K (9.5%), D (6.8%), J (4.1%), and H (2.7%). CT-positive samples were from males (n = 12, 19.7%), females (n = 42, 68.8%), and anonymous (n = 7, 11.5%) patients, with an age range of 19 to 45 years (average 26.4), including 12 different ethnic groups representative of this region. Most patients were infected with a single genovar (82%), while 18% were co-infected with either two or three genovars. The 1156 bp-fragment of the ompA gene was sequenced in 46 samples to determine single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) among isolates. SNP-based subtyping and phylogenetic reconstruction revealed the presence of 13 variants of the ompA gene, such as E (E1, E2, E6), G (G1, G2, G3, G5), F1, K, D (D1, Da2), J1, and H2. Differing genovar distribution was identified among urban (E>G>F) and rural (E>K) populations, and in Slavic (E>G>D) and non-Slavic (E>G>K) ethnic groups. Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) determined five sequences types (STs), such as ST4 (56%, 95% confidence interval, CI, 70.0 to 41.3), ST6 (10%, 95% CI 21.8 to 3.3), ST9 (22%, 95% CI 35.9 to 11.5), ST10 (2%, 95% CI 10.7 to 0.05) and ST38 (10%, 95% CI 21.8 to 3.3). Thus, the most common STs were ST4 and ST9. Conclusion C. trachomatis is a significant cause of morbidity among random heterosexual patients with genital chlamydial infections in the Saratov Region. Further studies should extend this investigation by describing trends in a larger population, both inside and outside of the Saratov Region to clarify some aspects for the actual application of C. trachomatis genotype analysis for disease control.
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