The intestinal microbiota plays a role in Salmonella-induced colitis independent of pathogen colonization

Rosana B R Ferreira, Navkiran Gill, Benjamin P Willing, L Caetano M Antunes, Shannon L Russell, Matthew A Croxen, B Brett Finlay
PloS One 2011, 6 (5): e20338
The intestinal microbiota is composed of hundreds of species of bacteria, fungi and protozoa and is critical for numerous biological processes, such as nutrient acquisition, vitamin production, and colonization resistance against bacterial pathogens. We studied the role of the intestinal microbiota on host resistance to Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium-induced colitis. Using multiple antibiotic treatments in 129S1/SvImJ mice, we showed that disruption of the intestinal microbiota alters host susceptibility to infection. Although all antibiotic treatments caused similar increases in pathogen colonization, the development of enterocolitis was seen only when streptomycin or vancomycin was used; no significant pathology was observed with the use of metronidazole. Interestingly, metronidazole-treated and infected C57BL/6 mice developed severe pathology. We hypothesized that the intestinal microbiota confers resistance to infectious colitis without affecting the ability of S. Typhimurium to colonize the intestine. Indeed, different antibiotic treatments caused distinct shifts in the intestinal microbiota prior to infection. Through fluorescence in situ hybridization, terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism, and real-time PCR, we showed that there is a strong correlation between the intestinal microbiota composition before infection and susceptibility to Salmonella-induced colitis. Members of the Bacteroidetes phylum were present at significantly higher levels in mice resistant to colitis. Further analysis revealed that Porphyromonadaceae levels were also increased in these mice. Conversely, there was a positive correlation between the abundance of Lactobacillus sp. and predisposition to colitis. Our data suggests that different members of the microbiota might be associated with S. Typhimurium colonization and colitis. Dissecting the mechanisms involved in resistance to infection and inflammation will be critical for the development of therapeutic and preventative measures against enteric pathogens.

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