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This review elaborates the development of germfree and gnotobiotic animal models and their application in the scientific field to unravel mechanisms underlying host—microbe interactions and distinct diseases. Strictly germfree animals are raised in isolators and not colonized by any organism at all. The germfree state is continuously maintained by birth, raising, housing and breeding under strict sterile conditions. However, isolator raised germfree mice are exposed to a stressful environment and exert an underdeveloped immune system. To circumvent these physiological disadvantages depletion of the bacterial microbiota in conventionally raised and housed mice by antibiotic treatment has become an alternative approach. While fungi and parasites are not affected by antibiosis, the bacterial microbiota in these “secondary abiotic mice” have been shown to be virtually eradicated. Recolonization of isolator raised germfree animals or secondary abiotic mice results in a gnotobiotic state. Both, germfree and gnotobiotic mice have been successfully used to investigate biological functions of the conventional microbiota in health and disease. Particularly for the development of novel clinical applications germfree mice are widely used tools, as summarized in this review further focusing on the modulation of bacterial microbiota in laboratory mice to better mimic conditions in the human host.

Open access

Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease, is capable of forming biofilm in vivo and in vitro, a structure well known for its resistance to antimicrobial agents. For the formation of biofilm, signaling processes are required to communicate with the surrounding environment such as it was shown for the RpoN—RpoS alternative sigma factor and for the LuxS quorum-sensing pathways. Therefore, in this study, the wild-type B. burgdorferi and different mutant strains lacking RpoN, RpoS, and LuxS genes were studied for their growth characteristic and development of biofilm structures and markers as well as for their antibiotic sensitivity. Our results showed that all three mutants formed small, loosely formed aggregates, which expressed previously identified Borrelia biofilm markers such as alginate, extracellular DNA, and calcium. All three mutants had significantly different sensitivity to doxycyline in the early log phase spirochete cultures; however, in the biofilm rich stationary cultures, only LuxS mutant showed increased sensitivity to doxycyline compared to the wild-type strain. Our findings indicate that all three mutants have some effect on Borrelia biofilm, but the most dramatic effect was found with LuxS mutant, suggesting that the quorum-sensing pathway plays an important role of Borrelia biofilm formation and antibiotic sensitivity.

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European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology
Authors: Cosme Alvarado-Esquivel, Luis Francisco Sánchez-Anguiano, Jesús Hernández-Tinoco, Alma Rosa Pérez-Álamos, Yazmin del Rosario Rico-Almochantaf, Sergio Estrada-Martínez, Raquel Vaquera-Enriquez, Arturo Díaz-Herrera, Agar Ramos-Nevarez, Ada Agustina Sandoval-Carrillo, José Manuel Salas-Pacheco, Sandra Margarita Cerrillo-Soto, Elizabeth Irasema Antuna-Salcido, Oliver Liesenfeld, and Carlos Alberto Guido-Arreola

Infection with Toxoplasma gondii in brain may cause some symptoms that resemble those in women with premenstrual syndrome. To determine the association of T. gondii infection with symptoms and signs of premenstrual syndrome, we examined 489 women aged 30–40 years old. Sera of participants were analyzed for the presence of anti-Toxoplasma IgG and IgM antibodies using enzyme-linked immunoassays (EIA) and T. gondii DNA by polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

Anti-T. gondii IgG antibodies were found in 38 (7.8%) of the women studied. Anti-T. gondii IgM antibodies were found in 13 (34.2%) of the 38 IgG seropositive women. Logistic regression showed two variables associated with seropositivity to T. gondii: presence of diarrhea (odds ratio [OR] = 6.10; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.37–27.85; P = 0.01) and weight gain (OR = 2.89; 95% CI: 1.37–6.07; P = 0.005), and two variables associated with high (>150 IU/ml) levels of IgG against T. gondii: presence of diarrhea (OR = 7.40; 95% CI: 1.79–30.46; P = 0.006) and abdominal inflammation (OR = 3.38; 95% CI: 1.13–10.10; P = 0.02). Positivity to EIA IgG and PCR was positively associated with obesity and negatively associated with joint pain by bivariate analysis.

Our study for the first time reveals a potential association of T. gondii infection with clinical manifestations of premenstrual syndrome.

Open access
Community Ecology
Authors: T. Standovár, F. Szmorad, B. Kovács, K. Kelemen, M. Plattner, T. Roth, and Zs. Pataki

A new forest state assessment methodology to complement existing conservation and forestry data has been developed. The aim is to provide tools for strategic planning including spatial distribution of conservation priorities. The method is point-based using a dense systematic sampling grid and provides more detailed information than vegetation maps or forest subcompartment descriptions, but requires less effort than forest inventories. Indicators include canopy composition and structure, deadwood, herbs, microhabitats, disturbances, shrubs and regeneration. The results can inform managers about the structural and compositional diversity of forest stands in the form of thematic maps and can provide the basis for analysis of habitat suitability for forest-dwelling organisms. A smartphone application has been developed to enable electronic data collection. PostGIS and Python scripts were used in the data flow. In this paper, we outline the development of the assessment protocol, and present the sampling design and the variables recorded. The main advantages of the survey methodology are also shown by case-studies based on data collected during the first field season in 2014. The protocol has been designed for low mountain forests in Hungary, but it can be modified to fit other forest types.

Open access
European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology
Authors: Michael Fehlings, Lea Drobbe, Macarena Beigier-Bompadre, Pablo Renner Viveros, Verena Moos, Thomas Schneider, Thomas F. Meyer, Toni Aebischer, and Ralf Ignatius

Direct effects of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) on human CD4+ T-cells hamper disentangling a possible bacterial-mediated interference with major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II)-dependent antigen presentation to these cells. To overcome this limitation, we employed a previously described assay, which enables assessing human antigen-processing cell function by using murine T-cell hybridoma cells restricted by human leukocyte antigen (HLA) alleles. HLA-DR1+ monocyte-derived dendritic cells were exposed to H. pylori and pulsed with the antigen 85B from Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis). Interleukin-2 (IL-2) secretion by AG85Baa97-112-specific hybridoma cells was then evaluated as an integral reporter of cognate antigen presentation. This methodology enabled revealing of interference of H. pylori with the antigen-presenting capacity of human dendritic cells.

Open access
European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology
Authors: Norah Lynn-Anne Mund, Wycliffe Omurwa Masanta, Anne-Marie Goldschmidt, Raimond Lugert, Uwe Groß, and Andreas E. Zautner

Campylobacter jejuni’s flagellar locomotion is controlled by eleven chemoreceptors. Assessment of the distribution of the relevant chemoreceptor genes in the C. jejuni genomes deposited in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) database led to the identification of two previously unknown tlp genes and a tlp5 pseudogene. These two chemoreceptor genes share the same locus in the C. jejuni genome with tlp4 and tlp11, but the gene region encoding the periplasmic ligand binding domain differs significantly from other chemoreceptor genes. Hence, they were named tlp12 and tlp13.

Consequently, it was of interest to study their distribution in C. jejuni subpopulations of different clonality, and their cooccurrence with the eleven previously reported chemoreceptor genes. Therefore, the presence of all tlp genes was detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in 292 multilocus sequence typing (MLST)-typed C. jejuni isolates from different hosts.

The findings show interesting trends: Tlp4, tlp11, tlp12, and tlp13 appeared to be mutually exclusive and cooccur in a minor subset of isolates. Tlp4 was found to be present in only 33.56% of all tested isolates and was significantly less often detected in turkey isolates. Tlp11 was tested positive in only 17.8% of the isolates, while tlp12 was detected in 29.5% of all isolates, and tlp13 was found to be present in 38.7%.

Open access

Interleukin-8 (IL-8) is a potent neutrophil-activating chemokine which triggers the infiltration and migration of neutrophils into areas of bacterial infection. Helicobacter pylori-infected patient studies as well as animal models have revealed that H. pylori type I strains carrying an intact cytotoxin-associated gene pathogenicity island (cag-PAI) with a functional type IV secretion system (T4SS) induce IL-8 expression and secretion in gastric mucosa. This gastric mucosal IL-8 expression correlates with severe histological changes due to H. pylori infection.

In the present study, we explored a new recognition pattern on the bacterial adhesion protein CagL inducing IL-8 expression in H. pylori-infected host cells. To analyze the secreted IL-8 concentration, we performed IL-8 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). To investigate the H. pylori-induced IL-8 expression on the transcriptional level, we transiently transfected gastric epithelial cells (AGS) with a human IL-8 luciferase reporter construct.

The results of this study demonstrate that specifically the C-terminal coiled-coil region of the H. pylori CagL protein, a protein described to be located on the tip of the T4SS-pilus, is responsible for several in vitro observations: 1) H. pylori-induced IL-8 secretion via the transforming growth factor (TGF)-α activated epidermal growth factor-receptor (EGF-R) signaling pathway; 2) H. pylori-induced elongation of the cells, a typical CagA-induced phenotype; and 3) the bridging of the T4SS to its human target cells. This novel bacterial-host recognition sequence allows a new insight into how H. pylori induces the inflammatory response in gastric epithelial cells and facilitates the development of precancerous conditions.

Open access

The extraction and further processing of nucleic acids (NA) from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues for microbiological diagnostic polymerase chain reaction (PCR) approaches is challenging. Here, we assessed the effects of five different commercially available nucleic acid extraction kits on the results of real-time PCR.

FFPE samples from organs of Burkholderia pseudomallei-infected Swiss mice were subjected to processing with five different extraction kits from QIAGEN (FFPE DNA Tissue Kit, EZ1 DNA Tissue Kit, DNA Mini Kit, DNA Blood Mini Kit, and FlexiGene DNA Kit) in combination with three different real-time PCRs targeting B. pseudomallei-specific sequences of varying length after 16 years of storage.

The EZ1 DNA Tissue Kit and the DNA Mini Kit scored best regarding the numbers of successful PCR reactions. In case of positive PCR, differences regarding the cycle-threshold (Ct) values were marginal.

The impact of the applied extraction kits on the reliability of PCR from FFPE material seems to be low. Interfering factors like the quality of the dewaxing procedure or the sample age appear more important than the selection of specialized FFPE kits.

Open access

A century ago, Alfred Nissle discovered that intentional intake of particular strains of Escherichia coli could treat patients suffering from infectious diseases. Since then, one of these strains became the most frequently used probiotic E. coli in research and was applied to a variety of human conditions. Here, properties of that E. coli Nissle 1917 strain are compared with other commercially available E. coli probiotic strains, with emphasis on their human applications. A literature search formed the basis of a summary of research findings reported for the probiotics Mutaflor, Symbioflor 2, and Colinfant. The closest relatives of the strains in these products are presented, and their genetic content, including the presence of virulence, genes is discussed. A similarity to pathogenic strains causing urinary tract infections is noticeable. Historic trends in research of probiotics treatment for particular human conditions are identified. The future of probiotic E. coli may lay in what Alfred Nissle originally discovered: to treat gastrointestinal infections, which nowadays are often caused by antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

Open access


Chemiluminescent or enzyme-linked fluorescent immunoassays are commonly used to diagnose Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea.


The LIAISON analyzer (DiaSorin, Italy) was compared to miniVIDAS (bioMérieux, France) and, furthermore, to culture of toxigenic strains. In total, 249 native stool samples were analyzed. Sensitivities, specificities, and positive and negative predictive values were investigated. Furthermore, performance under routine conditions was assessed.


The glutamate dehydrogenase chemiluminescent immunoassay (GDH-CLIA) assay revealed a high sensitivity and negative predictive value. The toxins A&B assays exhibited approximately the same low sensitivity and high specificity. Technical drawbacks experienced with the LIAISON analyzer in 48% of the analyses considerably delayed the time to the first diagnostic report and interfered with laboratory routine workflow.


The analytical performance of the investigated platforms should be reflected in the context of implementation into the laboratory workflow.

Open access