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.
The World Health Organization has rated multidrug-resistant (MDR) Pseudomonas aeruginosa as a critical threat to human health. In the present study, we performed a survey of intestinal colonization, and local and systemic immune responses following peroral association of secondary abiotic mice with either a clinical MDR P. aeruginosa or a commensal murine Escherichia coli isolate. Depletion of the intestinal microbiota following antibiotic treatment facilitated stable intestinal colonization of both P. aeruginosa and E. coli that were neither associated with relevant clinical nor histopathological sequelae. Either stable bacterial colonization, however, resulted in distinct innate and adaptive immune cell responses in the intestines, whereas a pronounced increase in macrophages and monocytes could be observed in the small as well as large intestines upon P. aeruginosa challenge only, which also applied to colonic T lymphocytes. In addition, TNF secretion was exclusively elevated in large intestines of P. aeruginosa-colonized mice. Strikingly, association of secondary abiotic mice with MDR P. aeruginosa, but not commensal E. coli, resulted in pronounced systemic pro-inflammatory responses, whereas anti-inflammatory responses were dampened. Hence, intestinal carriage of MDR P. aeruginosa as compared to a mere commensal Gram-negative strain in otherwise healthy individuals results in distinct local and systemic pro-inflammatory sequelae.
Humans have lost their vitamin C-synthesizing capacities during evolution. Therefore, the uptake of this essential compound from external sources is mandatory in order to prevent vitamin C-deficient conditions resulting in severe morbidities such as scurvy. The potent antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and antiinfectious effects of vitamin C are known since the 1930s. We here (i) review the impact of vitamin C on innate and adaptive immune functions, (ii) provide an overview of its antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic, and antifungal properties, and finally, (iii) discuss vitamin C as an adjunct treatment option for the combat of human infections by bacteria, particularly by emerging multidrug-resistant species.
Antimicrobial multidrug-resistance (MDR) constitutes an emerging threat to global health and makes the effective prevention and treatment of many, particularly severe infections challenging, if not impossible. Many antibiotic classes have lost antimicrobial efficacy against a plethora of infectious agents including bacterial species due to microbial acquisition of distinct resistance genes. Hence, the development of novel anti-infectious intervention strategies including antibiotic-independent approaches is urgently needed. Vitamins such as vitamin D and vitamin D derivates might be such promising molecular candidates to combat infections caused by bacteria including MDR strains. Using the Pubmed database, we therefore performed an in-depth literature survey, searching for publications on the antimicrobial effect of vitamin D directed against bacteria including MDR strains. In vitro and clinical studies between 2009 and 2019 revealed that vitamin D does, in fact, possess antimicrobial properties against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacterial species, whereas conflicting results could be obtained from in vivo studies. Taken together, the potential anti-infectious effects for the antibiotic-independent application of vitamin D and/or an adjunct therapy in combination with antibiotic compounds directed against infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, H. pylori infections, or skin diseases, for instance, should be considered and further investigated in more detail.
Intestinal carriage of multi-drug resistant (MDR) Gram-negative bacteria including Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Psae) constitutes a pivotal prerequisite for subsequent fatal endogenous infections in patients at risk. We here addressed whether fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) could effectively combat MDR-Psae carriage. Therefore, secondary abiotic mice were challenged with MDR-Psae by gavage. One week later, mice were subjected to peroral FMT from either murine or human donors on 3 consecutive days. Irrespective of murine or human origin of fecal transplant, intestinal MDR-Psae loads decreased as early as 24 h after the initial FMT. Remarkably, the murine FMT could lower intestinal MDR-Psae burdens by approximately 4 log orders of magnitude within 1 week. In another intervention study, mice harboring a human gut microbiota were perorally challenged with MDR-Psae and subjected to murine FMT on 3 consecutive days, 1 week later. Strikingly, within 5 days, murine FMT resulted in lower loads and carrier rates of MDR-Psae in mice with a human gut microbiota. In conclusion, FMT might be a promising antibiotics-independent option to combat intestinal MDR-Psae carriage and thus prevent from future endogenous infections of patients at risk.
Antibiotic resistance constitutes a global threat to the health care systems. The number of infections due to multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria increases progressively resulting in an estimated annual number of 750,000 fatal cases worldwide. Additionally, the lack of novel antibiotic compounds worsens the dilemma. Hence, there is an urgent need for alternative ways to fight antibiotic resistance. One option may be natural compounds with antibacterial properties such as hop and its biologically active ingredients which are used in traditional medicine since ancient times. This prompted us to perform an actual literature survey regarding the antibacterial properties of biologically active ingredients in hop including humulone, lupulone and xanthohumol. The 20 included studies revealed that lupulone and xanthohumol do in fact inhibit the growth of Gram-positive bacteria in vitro. In combination with distinct antibiotic compounds the hop ingredients can even exert synergistic effects resulting in enhanced antibiotic activities against defined Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. In conclusion, biologically active ingredients in hop including lupulone and xanthohumol may be potential antibiotic compounds which either alone or in combination with other antibacterial substances open novel avenues in the combat of infections caused by pathogenic including MDR bacteria.
Due to the increasing application of antibiotics not only in healthcare settings but also in conventional agriculture and farming, multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacterial pathogens are rising worldwide. Given the increasing prevalence of infections caused by MDR bacteria such as Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterobacter species (ESKAPE pathogen complex), it is pivotal to explore novel alternative or adjunct treatment options such as phytochemicals with antibiotic properties. Vanillin and vanillin acid represent biologically active ingredients in vanilla that has been known for long for its health-beneficial including antimicrobial effects besides its role as flavoring agent. Therefore, we performed a literature search from the past 10 years summarizing the knowledge regarding the effects of vanilla constituents against bacterial including MDR pathogens. Our survey revealed that vanillin and vanillic acid exerted potent effects directed against distinct Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria by inhibiting growth, viability, biofilm formation, quorum sensing and virulence. Remarkably, when combining vanillin or vanillic acid with defined synthetic antibiotics pronounced synergistic effects directed against distinct pathogenic including ESCAPE strains could be observed. In conclusion, vanilla ingredients constitute promising alternative or adjunct options in the combat of infections caused by MDR bacterial pathogens.
In line with the current development of individualized cancer treatments, targeted and specialized therapeutic regimens such as immunotherapy gain importance and factors improving its efficacy come into the focus of actual research. Given the orchestrated interaction of the intestinal microbiota with host immunity the modulation of the human gut microbiota represents a therapy-enhancing factor. We therefore performed an actual literature survey on the role of the gut microbiota composition and the effects of its modification during immunotherapy of cancer patients. The included 23 studies published in the past 10 years revealed that both, distinct bacterial species and genera including Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Bifidobacterium, respectively, enhanced distinct immunotherapy responses following PD-1/PD-L1 and CTLA-4 blockage, for instance, resulting in a better clinical outcome of cancer patients. Conversely, a high intestinal abundance of Bacteroidetes and Fusobacterium species correlated with a less efficient immunotherapy resulting in shorter progress-free survival outcomes. In conclusion, modifications of the gut microbiota by fecal microbiota transplantation or application of probiotic compounds represent potential adjunct options for immunotherapy in cancer patients which needs to be further addressed in future trials to provide individually tailored and safe adjuvant therapeutic measures in the combat of cancer.
Gut microbiota depletion is a pivotal prerequisite to warrant Campylobacter jejuni infection and induced inflammation in IL-10-/- mice used as acute campylobacteriosis model. We here assessed the impact of an 8-week antibiotic regimen of ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, imipenem, metronidazole, and vancomycin (ABx) as compared to ampicillin plus sulbactam (A/S) on gut microbiota depletion and immunopathological responses upon oral C. jejuni infection. Our obtained results revealed that both antibiotic regimens were comparably effective in depleting the murine gut microbiota facilitating similar pathogenic colonization alongside the gastrointestinal tract following oral infection. Irrespective of the preceding microbiota depletion regimen, mice were similarly compromised by acute C. jejuni induced enterocolitis as indicated by comparable clinical scores and macroscopic as well as microscopic sequelae such as colonic histopathology and apoptosis on day 6 post-infection. Furthermore, innate and adaptive immune cell responses in the large intestines were similar in both infected cohorts, which also held true for intestinal, extra-intestinal and even systemic secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-α, IFN-γ, and IL-6. In conclusion, gut microbiota depletion in IL-10-/- mice by ampicillin plus sulbactam is sufficient to investigate both, C. jejuni infection and the immunopathological features of acute campylobacteriosis.
The excessive prescription of antibiotics has led to an increasing number of antimicrobial resistances, posing a major public health concern. Therefore, the pharmacological research has shifted its focus to the identification of natural compounds that exhibit anti-pathogenic properties without triggering antibiotic resistance. Butyrate has received increasing attention as a promising candidate for the treatment of bacterial infections in the gastrointestinal tract, particularly when antibiotic treatment is contraindicated. This literature survey summarizes recently investigated antibacterial and immune-modulatory effects of butyrate. This survey revealed that butyrate exerts direct antimicrobial effects against distinct strains of Acinetobacter baumannii, Escherichia coli, Bacillus, and Staphylococcus species. In addition, in vitro and in vivo studies confirmed indirect antimicrobial effects of butyrate, which were exhibited via induction of host defensin production as well as by activation of innate and adaptive immune responses. Finally, the synergistic action of butyrate in combination with other antimicrobial compounds results in a striking clearance of bacterial pathogens. In conclusion, butyrate and its derivatives might be considered as promising antibacterial and immune-modulatory agents in order to tackle bacterial infections without antibiotics.