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  • Author or Editor: Ulrike Escher x
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The rising incidences of infections with multidrug-resistant (MDR) Gram-negative bacteria including Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) have gained increasing attention in medicine, but also in the general public and global health politics. The mechanisms underlying opportunistic pathogen—host interactions are unclear, however. To address this, we challenged secondary abiotic IL10−/− mice deficient for Toll-like receptor-4 (TLR4−/− × IL10−/−), the main receptor of the Gram-negative cell wall constituent lipopolysaccharide, with a clinical MDR PA isolate. Despite higher intestinal colonization densities, apoptotic colonic epithelial cell numbers were lower in TLR4−/− × IL10−/− mice as compared to IL10−/− controls at day 14 postinfection (p.i.), whereas proliferating/regenerating cells had increased in the latter only. Furthermore, PA-colonized TLR4−/− × IL10−/− mice displayed less distinct innate and adaptive immune cell responses in the colon as compared to IL10−/− counterparts that were accompanied by lower nitric oxide concentrations in mesenteric lymph nodes in the former at day 14 p.i. Conversely, splenic NO levels were higher in both naive and PA-colonized TLR4-deficient IL10−/− mice versus IL10−/− controls. Remarkably, intestinal MDR PA was able to translocate to extra-intestinal including systemic compartments of TLR4−/− × IL10−/− mice only. Hence, MDR PA-induced intestinal and systemic immune responses observed in secondary abiotic IL10−/− mice are TLR4-dependent.

Open access

Within 1 week following high-dose Toxoplasma gondii infection, mice develop lethal necrotizing ileitis. However, data from a subacute T. gondii-induced ileitis model are scarce. Therefore, mice harboring a human gut microbiota were perorally infected with one cyst of T. gondii. Within 9 days post-infection, the intestinal microbiota composition shifted towards higher loads of commensal enterobacteria and enterococci. Following T. gondii infection, mice were clinically only mildly affected, whereas ≈60% of mice displayed fecal blood and mild-to-moderate ileal histopathological changes. Intestinal inflammation was further characterized by increased apoptotic intestinal epithelial cells, which were accompanied by elevated proliferating gut epithelial cell numbers. As compared to naive controls, infected mice displayed elevated numbers of intestinal T lymphocytes and regulatory T-cells and increased pro-inflammatory mediator secretion. Remarkably, T. gondii-induced apoptotic and pro-inflammatory immune responses were not restricted to the gut, but could also be observed in extra-intestinal compartments including kidney, liver, and lung. Strikingly, low-dose T. gondii infection resulted in increased serum levels of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines. In conclusion, the here presented subacute ileitis model following peroral low-dose T. gondii infection of humanized mice allows for detailed investigations of the molecular mechanism underlying the “ménage à trois” of pathogens, human gut microbiota, and immunity.

Open access
Authors: Ulrike Escher, Eliezer Giladi, Ildikò R. Dunay, Stefan Bereswill, Illana Gozes and Markus M. Heimesaat

The octapeptide NAP is well known for its neuroprotective properties. We here investigated whether NAP treatment could alleviate pro-inflammatory immune responses during experimental subacute ileitis. To address this, mice with a human gut microbiota were perorally infected with one cyst of Toxoplasma gondii (day 0) and subjected to intraperitoneal synthetic NAP treatment from day 1 until day 8 postinfection (p.i.). Whereas placebo (PLC) control animals displayed subacute ileitis at day 9 p.i., NAP-treated mice exhibited less pronounced pro-inflammatory immune responses as indicated by lower numbers of intestinal mucosal T and B lymphocytes and lower interferon (IFN)-γ concentrations in mesenteric lymph nodes. The NAP-induced anti-inflammatory effects were not restricted to the intestinal tract but could also be observed in extra-intestinal including systemic compartments, given that pro-inflammatory cytokines were lower in liver, kidney, and lung following NAP as compared to PLC application, whereas at day 9 p.i., colonic and serum interleukin (IL)-10 concentrations were higher in the former as compared to the latter. Remarkably, probiotic commensal bifidobacterial loads were higher in the ileal lumen of NAP as compared to PLC-treated mice with ileitis. Our findings thus further support that NAP might be regarded as future treatment option directed against intestinal inflammation.

Open access
Authors: Eliane von Klitzing, Fulya Öz, Ira Ekmekciu, Ulrike Escher, Stefan Bereswill and Markus M. Heimesaat

Secondary abiotic mice generated by broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment provide a valuable tool for association studies with microbiota derived from different vertebrate hosts. We here generated human microbiota-associated (hma) mice by human fecal microbiota transplantation of secondary abiotic mice and performed a comprehensive survey of the intestinal microbiota dynamics in offspring of hma mice over 18 weeks following weaning as compared to their mothers applying both cultural and molecular methods. Mice were maintained under standard hygienic conditions with open cages, handled under aseptic conditions, and fed autoclaved chow and water. Within 1 week post weaning, fecal loads of commensal enterobacteria and enterococci had decreased, whereas obligate anaerobic bacteria such as Bacteroides/Prevotella species and clostridia were stably colonizing the intestines of hma offspring at high loads. Lactobacilli numbers were successively increasing until 18 weeks post weaning in both hma offspring and mothers, whereas by then, bifidobacteria were virtually undetectable in the former only. Interestingly, fecal lactobacilli and bifidobacteria were higher in mothers as compared to their offspring at 5 and 18 weeks post weaning. We conclude that the intestinal microbiota composition changes in offspring of hma mice, but also their mothers over time particularly affecting aerobic and microaerobic species.

Open access
Authors: Manja Boehm, Daniel Simson, Ulrike Escher, Anna-Maria Schmidt, Stefan Bereswill, Nicole Tegtmeyer, Steffen Backert and Markus M. Heimesaat

Campylobacter jejuni is a major food-borne zoonotic pathogen, responsible for a large proportion of bacterial gastroenteritis cases, as well as Guillian-Barré and Miller-Fisher syndromes. During infection, tissue damage is mainly caused by bacteria invading epithelial cells and traversing the intestinal barrier. C. jejuni is able to enter the lamina propria and the bloodstream and may move into other organs, such as spleen, liver, or mesenteric lymph nodes. However, the involved molecular mechanisms are not fully understood. C. jejuni can transmigrate effectively across polarized intestinal epithelial cells mainly by the paracellular route using the serine protease high-temperature requirement A (HtrA). However, it appears that HtrA has a dual function, as it also acts as a chaperone, interacting with denatured or misfolded periplasmic proteins under stress conditions. Here, we review recent progress on the role of HtrA in C. jejuni pathogenesis. HtrA can be transported into the extracellular space and cleaves cell-to-cell junction factors, such as E-cadherin and probably others, disrupting the epithelial barrier and enabling paracellular transmigration of the bacteria. The secretion of HtrA is a newly discovered strategy also utilized by other pathogens. Thus, secreted HtrA proteases represent highly attractive targets for anti-bacterial treatment and may provide a suitable candidate for vaccine development.

Open access