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1.  Isolation and Characterization of a Defensin-Like Peptide (Coprisin) from the Dung Beetle, Copris tripartitus 
The antibacterial activity of immune-related peptides, identified by a differential gene expression analysis, was investigated to suggest novel antibacterial peptides. A cDNA encoding a defensin-like peptide, Coprisin, was isolated from bacteria-immunized dung beetle, Copris tripartitus, by using differential dot blot hybridization. Northern blot analysis showed that Coprisin mRNA was up-regulated from 4 hours after bacteria injection and its expression level was reached a peak at 16 hours. The deduced amino acid sequence of Coprisin was composed of 80 amino acids with a predicted molecular weight of 8.6 kDa and a pI of 8.7. The amino acid sequence of mature Coprisin was found to be 79.1% and 67.4% identical to those of defensin-like peptides of Anomala cuprea and Allomyrina dichotoma, respectively. We also investigated active sequences of Coprisin by using amino acid modification. The result showed that the 9-mer peptide, LLCIALRKK-NH2, exhibited potent antibacterial activities against Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus.
PMCID: PMC2915626  PMID: 20721297
2.  Structure-activity relationships of the intramolecular disulfide bonds in coprisin, a defensin from the dung beetle 
BMB Reports  2014;47(11):625-630.
Defensins, which are small cationic molecules produced by organisms as part of their innate immune response, share a common structural scaffold that is stabilized by three disulfide bridges. Coprisin is a 43-amino acid defensin-like peptide from Copris tripartitus. Here, we report the intramolecular disulfide connectivity of cysteine-rich coprisin, and show that it is the same as in other insect defensins. The disulfide bond pairings of coprisin were determined by combining the enzymatic cleavage and mass analysis. We found that the loss of any single disulfide bond in coprisin eliminated all antibacterial, but not antifungal, activity. Circular dichroism (CD) analysis showed that two disulfide bonds, Cys20-Cys39 and Cys24-Cys41, stabilize coprisin’s α-helical region. Moreover, a BLAST search against UniProtKB database revealed that coprisin’s α-helical region is highly homologous to those of other insect defensins. [BMB Reports 2014; 47(11): 625-630]
PMCID: PMC4281341  PMID: 24393527
Antimicrobial peptide; Circular dichroism; Coprisin; disulfide connectivity; Insect defensin
3.  Reduction in Clostridium difficile Infection Rates after Mandatory Hospital Public Reporting: Findings from a Longitudinal Cohort Study in Canada 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(7):e1001268.
A population-based study conducted by Nick Daneman and colleagues in Ontario, Canada reports on the association between population reporting of hospital infection rates and a reduction in population burden of Clostridium difficile colitis.
The role of public reporting in improving hospital quality of care is controversial. Reporting of hospital-acquired infection rates has been introduced in multiple health care systems, but its relationship to infection rates has been understudied. Our objective was to determine whether mandatory public reporting by hospitals is associated with a reduction in hospital rates of Clostridium difficile infection.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a longitudinal, population-based cohort study in Ontario (Canada's largest province) between April 1, 2002, and March 31, 2010. We included all patients (>1 y old) admitted to 180 acute care hospitals. Using Poisson regression, we developed a model to predict hospital- and age-specific monthly rates of C. difficile disease per 10,000 patient-days prior to introduction of public reporting on September 1, 2008. We then compared observed monthly rates of C. difficile infection in the post-intervention period with rates predicted by the pre-intervention predictive model. In the pre-intervention period there were 33,634 cases of C. difficile infection during 39,221,113 hospital days, with rates increasing from 7.01 per 10,000 patient-days in 2002 to 10.79 in 2007. In the first calendar year after the introduction of public reporting, there was a decline in observed rates of C. difficile colitis in Ontario to 8.92 cases per 10,000 patient-days, which was significantly lower than the predicted rate of 12.16 (95% CI 11.35–13.04) cases per 10,000 patient-days (p<0.001). Over this period, public reporting was associated with a 26.7% (95% CI 21.4%–31.6%) reduction in C. difficile cases, or a projected 1,970 cases averted per year (95% CI 1,476–2,500). The effect was specific to C. difficile, with rates of community-acquired gastrointestinal infections and urinary tract infections unchanged. A limitation of our study is that this observational study design cannot rule out the influence of unmeasured temporal confounders.
Public reporting of hospital C. difficile rates was associated with a substantial reduction in the population burden of this infection. Future research will be required to discern the direct mechanism by which C. difficile infection rates may have been reduced in response to public reporting.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
A stay in hospital can be lifesaving but can expose people to health care–associated infections. One of these—Clostridium difficile infection—is a major cause of infectious disease illness and death in developed countries. C. difficile bacteria cause diarrhea and, more rarely, life-threatening inflammation of the gut (colitis). They are present in the gut of about 3% of adults but do not normally cause any problems because other “good” bacteria keep them in check. However, antibiotics destroy these good bacteria, and if a person who has taken antibiotics becomes infected with C. difficile before good bacteria repopulate the gut, C. difficile can multiply rapidly and produce toxins that cause illness. Because C. difficile is usually acquired from other infected patients and their contaminated environments, and because antibiotic use is highly prevalent in hospitals, most C. difficile infections are acquired in hospitals and nursing homes. Infections can be prevented by practicing good hygiene in health care environments (for example, washing hands regularly with soap and water), by isolating patients who are infected with C. difficile, and by prescribing antibiotics for other infections sparingly.
Why Was This Study Done?
Hospitals often need encouragement to improve infection control and other aspects of care. One potential way to improve the quality of hospital care is mandatory public reporting of measures of care quality. This intervention may help hospitals identify areas of poor performance to target for improvement or may motivate them to improve care quality to avoid the shame of a bad performance report. Although many health care systems have introduced public reporting of hospital-acquired infections, the effects of this intervention have been poorly studied. In this longitudinal cohort study, the researchers use population-based health care data to evaluate the impact of the introduction of mandatory hospital public reporting of the rates of hospital-acquired C. difficile infection in Ontario, Canada. Since September 1, 2008, hospitals in Ontario have been required to send monthly data on hospital-acquired C. difficile infections to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for posting on a public website.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used health care administrative data for all patients older than one year admitted to acute care hospitals in Ontario between April 1, 2002, and March 31, 2010, to develop a model to predict monthly rates of C. difficile disease per 10,000 patient-days based on rates in the period before the introduction of public reporting. They then compared the observed rates of C. difficile disease after the introduction of public reporting with the rates predicted by this model. In the pre-intervention period, there were nearly 34,000 cases of C. difficile disease during about 39 million hospital days. Rates of C. difficile disease increased from 7.01 cases per 10,000 patient-days in 2002 to 10.79 cases per 10,000 patient-days in 2007. After the introduction of public reporting, the C. difficile disease rate fell to 8.92 cases per 10,000 patient-days, which is significantly (that is, unlikely to have occurred by chance) lower than the 12.16 cases per 10,000 patient-days predicted by the pre-intervention model. Finally, the researchers estimate that public reporting was associated with a 26.6% reduction in C. difficile disease cases and that it averted about 1,900 cases per year.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that mandatory public reporting of hospital rates of C. difficile disease may reduce the population burden of this serious infection. Because this is an observational study, these findings do not prove that the introduction of mandatory public reporting actually caused a reduction in infection rates. Some other uncharacterized factor might be responsible for the decrease in C. difficile disease in Ontario hospitals since late 2008. Moreover, the many assumptions included in the predictive model means that the estimated number of cases averted by the introduction of public reporting may be inaccurate. Although further research is needed to determine how public reporting might affect C. difficile disease rates, the researchers suggest that, in this study, mandatory public reporting may have increased the prominence of C. difficile on hospital quality improvement agendas and may have motivated hospitals to adhere more closely to best practices in C. difficile prevention.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides detailed information about C. difficile infection, including an article called Making Health Care Safer: Stopping C. difficile Infections
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about C. difficile infections
The Health Protection Agency provides information about mandatory reporting of C. difficile infections in England and Wales and a fact sheet on C. difficile
Information about public reporting of hospital C. difficile rates in Ontario is available (in English and French)
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about C. difficile infections (in English and Spanish)
The UK Clostridium Difficle Support website has a forum containing personal stories about C. difficile infection
PMCID: PMC3398960  PMID: 22815656
4.  Clostridium difficile Toxin B Causes Epithelial Cell Necrosis through an Autoprocessing-Independent Mechanism 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(12):e1003072.
Clostridium difficile is the most common cause of antibiotic-associated nosocomial infection in the United States. C. difficile secretes two homologous toxins, TcdA and TcdB, which are responsible for the symptoms of C. difficile associated disease. The mechanism of toxin action includes an autoprocessing event where a cysteine protease domain (CPD) releases a glucosyltransferase domain (GTD) into the cytosol. The GTD acts to modify and inactivate Rho-family GTPases. The presumed importance of autoprocessing in toxicity, and the apparent specificity of the CPD active site make it, potentially, an attractive target for small molecule drug discovery. In the course of exploring this potential, we have discovered that both wild-type TcdB and TcdB mutants with impaired autoprocessing or glucosyltransferase activities are able to induce rapid, necrotic cell death in HeLa and Caco-2 epithelial cell lines. The concentrations required to induce this phenotype correlate with pathology in a porcine colonic explant model of epithelial damage. We conclude that autoprocessing and GTD release is not required for epithelial cell necrosis and that targeting the autoprocessing activity of TcdB for the development of novel therapeutics will not prevent the colonic tissue damage that occurs in C. difficile – associated disease.
Author Summary
Clostridium difficile is an anaerobic spore-forming bacterium that infects the human colon and causes diarrhea, pseudomembranous colitis, and toxic megacolon. Most people that develop disease symptoms have undergone antibiotic treatment, which alters the normal gut flora and allows C. difficile to flourish. C. difficile secretes two toxins, TcdA and TcdB, that are responsible for the fluid secretion, inflammation, and colonic tissue damage associated with disease. The emergence of hypervirulent strains of C. difficile that are linked to increased morbidity and mortality highlights the need for new therapeutic strategies. One strategy is to inhibit the function of the toxins, thereby decreasing damage to the colon while the patient clears the infection with antibiotics. Toxin function is thought to depend on an autoprocessing event that releases a catalytic ‘effector’ portion of the toxin into the host cell. In the course of trying to identify small molecules that would inhibit such a function, we found that TcdB induces a rapid necrosis in epithelial cells that is not dependent on autoprocessing. The physiological relevance of this observation is confirmed in colonic explants and suggests that inhibiting TcdB autoprocessing will not prevent the colonic tissue damage observed in C. difficile associated diseases.
PMCID: PMC3516567  PMID: 23236283
5.  Clostridium difficile Spore-Macrophage Interactions: Spore Survival 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43635.
Clostridium difficile is the main cause of nosocomial infections including antibiotic associated diarrhea, pseudomembranous colitis and toxic megacolon. During the course of Clostridium difficile infections (CDI), C. difficile undergoes sporulation and releases spores to the colonic environment. The elevated relapse rates of CDI suggest that C. difficile spores has a mechanism(s) to efficiently persist in the host colonic environment.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this work, we provide evidence that C. difficile spores are well suited to survive the host’s innate immune system. Electron microscopy results show that C. difficile spores are recognized by discrete patchy regions on the surface of macrophage Raw 264.7 cells, and phagocytosis was actin polymerization dependent. Fluorescence microscopy results show that >80% of Raw 264.7 cells had at least one C. difficile spore adhered, and that ∼60% of C. difficile spores were phagocytosed by Raw 264.7 cells. Strikingly, presence of complement decreased Raw 264.7 cells’ ability to phagocytose C. difficile spores. Due to the ability of C. difficile spores to remain dormant inside Raw 264.7 cells, they were able to survive up to 72 h of macrophage infection. Interestingly, transmission electron micrographs showed interactions between the surface proteins of C. difficile spores and the phagosome membrane of Raw 264.7 cells. In addition, infection of Raw 264.7 cells with C. difficile spores for 48 h produced significant Raw 264.7 cell death as demonstrated by trypan blue assay, and nuclei staining by ethidium homodimer-1.
These results demonstrate that despite efficient recognition and phagocytosis of C. difficile spores by Raw 264.7 cells, spores remain dormant and are able to survive and produce cytotoxic effects on Raw 264.7 cells.
PMCID: PMC3428350  PMID: 22952726
6.  Lactobacillus delbrueckii ssp. bulgaricus B-30892 can inhibit cytotoxic effects and adhesion of pathogenic Clostridium difficile to Caco-2 cells 
Gut Pathogens  2009;1:8.
Probiotic microorganisms are receiving increasing interest for use in the prevention, treatment, or dietary management of certain diseases, including antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD). Clostridium difficile is the most common cause of AAD and the resulting C. difficile – mediated infection (CDI), is potentially deadly. C. difficile associated diarrhea (CDAD) is manifested by severe inflammation and colitis, mostly due to the release of two exotoxins by C. difficile causing destruction of epithelial cells in the intestine. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus delbrueckii ssp. bulgaricus B-30892 (LDB B-30892) on C. difficile-mediated cytotoxicity using Caco-2 cells as a model.
Experiments were carried out to test if the cytotoxicity induced by C. difficile-conditioned-medium on Caco-2 cells can be altered by cell-free supernatant (CFS) from LDB B-30892 in different dilutions (1:2 to 1:2048). In a similar experimental setup, comparative evaluations of other probiotic strains were made by contrasting the results from these strains with the results from LDB B-30892, specifically the ability to affect C. difficile induced cytotoxicity on Caco-2 monolayers. Adhesion assays followed by quantitative analysis by Giemsa staining were conducted to test if the CFSs from LDB B-30892 and other probiotic test strains have the capability to alter the adhesion of C. difficile to the Caco-2 monolayer. Experiments were also performed to evaluate if LDB B-30892 or its released components have any bactericidal effect on C. difficile.
Results and discussion
Co-culturing of LDB B-30892 with C. difficile inhibited the C. difficile-mediated cytotoxicity on Caco-2 cells. When CFS from LDB B-30892-C. difficile co-culture was administered (up to a dilution of 1:16) on Caco-2 monolayer, there were no signs of cytotoxicity. When CFS from separately grown LDB B-30892 was mixed with the cell-free toxin preparation (CFT) of separately cultured C. difficile, the LDB B-30892 CFS was inhibitory to C. difficile CFT-mediated cytotoxicity at a ratio of 1:8 (LDB B-30892 CFS:C. difficile CFT). We failed to find any similar inhibition of C. difficile-mediated cytotoxicity when other probiotic organisms were tested in parallel to LDB B-30892. Our data of cytotoxicity experiments suggest that LDB B-30892 releases one or more bioactive component(s) into the CFS, which neutralizes the cytotoxicity induced by C. difficile, probably by inactivating its toxin(s). Our data also indicate that CFS from LDB B-30892 reduced the adhesion of C. difficile by 81%, which is significantly (P <0.01) higher than all other probiotic organisms tested in this study.
This study reveals the very first findings that Lactobacillus delbrueckii ssp. bulgaricus B-30892 (LDB B-30892) can eliminate C. difficile-mediated cytotoxicity, using Caco-2 cells as a model. The study also demonstrates that LDB B-30892 can reduce the colonization of C. difficile cells in colorectal cells. More study is warranted to elucidate the specific mechanism of action of such reduction of cytotoxicity and colonization.
PMCID: PMC2680912  PMID: 19397787
7.  Antimicrobial Activities of Synthetic Bismuth Compounds against Clostridium difficile 
Clostridium difficile is a major nosocomial pathogen responsible for pseudomembranous colitis and many cases of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Because of potential relapse of disease with current antimicrobial therapy protocols, there is a need for additional and/or alternative antimicrobial agents for the treatment of disease caused by C. difficile. We have synthesized a systematic series of 14 structurally simple bismuth compounds and assessed their biological activities against C. difficile and four other gastrointestinal species, including Helicobacter pylori. Here, we report on the activities of six compounds that exhibit antibacterial activities against C. difficile, and some of the compounds have MICs of less than 1 μg/ml. Also tested, for comparison, were the activities of bismuth subcitrate and ranitidine bismuth citrate obtained from commercial sources. C. difficile and H. pylori were more sensitive both to the synthetic bismuth compounds and to the commercial products than were Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Proteus mirabilis, and the last three species were markedly resistant to the commercial bismuth salts. Testing with human foreskin fibroblast cells revealed that some of the synthetic compounds were more cytotoxic than others. Killing curves for C. difficile treated with the more active compounds revealed rapid death, and electron microscopy showed that the bismuth of these compounds was rapidly incorporated by C. difficile. Energy dispersive spectroscopy X-ray microanalysis of C. difficile cells containing electron-dense material confirmed the presence of internalized bismuth. Internalized bismuth was not observed in C. difficile treated with synthetic bismuth compounds that lacked antimicrobial activity, which suggests that the uptake of the metal is required for killing activity. The nature of the carrier would seem to determine whether bismuth is transported into susceptible bacteria like C. difficile.
PMCID: PMC89163  PMID: 10049270
8.  Global Analysis of the Sporulation Pathway of Clostridium difficile 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(8):e1003660.
The Gram-positive, spore-forming pathogen Clostridium difficile is the leading definable cause of healthcare-associated diarrhea worldwide. C. difficile infections are difficult to treat because of their frequent recurrence, which can cause life-threatening complications such as pseudomembranous colitis. The spores of C. difficile are responsible for these high rates of recurrence, since they are the major transmissive form of the organism and resistant to antibiotics and many disinfectants. Despite the importance of spores to the pathogenesis of C. difficile, little is known about their composition or formation. Based on studies in Bacillus subtilis and other Clostridium spp., the sigma factors σF, σE, σG, and σK are predicted to control the transcription of genes required for sporulation, although their specific functions vary depending on the organism. In order to determine the roles of σF, σE, σG, and σK in regulating C. difficile sporulation, we generated loss-of-function mutations in genes encoding these sporulation sigma factors and performed RNA-Sequencing to identify specific sigma factor-dependent genes. This analysis identified 224 genes whose expression was collectively activated by sporulation sigma factors: 183 were σF-dependent, 169 were σE-dependent, 34 were σG-dependent, and 31 were σK-dependent. In contrast with B. subtilis, C. difficile σE was dispensable for σG activation, σG was dispensable for σK activation, and σF was required for post-translationally activating σG. Collectively, these results provide the first genome-wide transcriptional analysis of genes induced by specific sporulation sigma factors in the Clostridia and highlight that diverse mechanisms regulate sporulation sigma factor activity in the Firmicutes.
Author Summary
C. difficile is the leading cause of healthcare-associated infectious diarrhea in the United States in large part because of its ability to form spores. Since spores are resistant to most disinfectants and antibiotics, C. difficile infections frequently recur and are easily spread. Despite the importance of spores to C. difficile transmission, little is known about how spores are made. We set out to address this question by generating C. difficile mutants lacking regulatory factors required for sporulation and identifying genes that are regulated by these factors during spore formation using whole-genome RNA-Sequencing. We determined that the regulatory pathway controlling sporulation in C. difficile differs from related Clostridium species and the non-pathogenic model spore-former Bacillus subtilis and identified 314 genes that are induced during C. difficile spore development. Collectively, our study provides a framework for identifying C. difficile gene products that are essential for spore formation. Further characterization of these gene products may lead to the identification of diagnostic biomarkers and the development of new therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC3738446  PMID: 23950727
9.  Nondigestible Oligosaccharides Enhance Bacterial Colonization Resistance against Clostridium difficile In Vitro 
Clostridium difficile is the principal etiologic agent of pseudomembranous colitis and is a major cause of nosocomial antibiotic-associated diarrhea. A limited degree of success in controlling C. difficile infection has been achieved by using probiotics; however, prebiotics can also be used to change bacterial community structure and metabolism in the large gut, although the effects of these carbohydrates on suppression of clostridial pathogens have not been well characterized. The aims of this study were to investigate the bifidogenicity of three nondigestible oligosaccharide (NDO) preparations in normal and antibiotic-treated fecal microbiotas in vitro and their abilities to increase barrier resistance against colonization by C. difficile by using cultural and molecular techniques. Fecal cultures from three healthy volunteers were challenged with a toxigenic strain of C. difficile, and molecular probes were used to monitor growth of the pathogen, together with growth of bifidobacterial and bacteroides populations, over a time course. Evidence of colonization resistance was assessed by determining viable bacterial counts, short-chain fatty acid formation, and cytotoxic activity. Chemostat studies were then performed to determine whether there was a direct correlation between bifidobacteria and C. difficile suppression. NDO were shown to stimulate bifidobacterial growth, and there were concomitant reductions in C. difficile populations. However, in the presence of clindamycin, activity against bifidobacteria was augmented in the presence of NDO, resulting in a further loss of colonization resistance. In the absence of clindamycin, NDO enhanced colonization resistance against C. difficile, although this could not be attributed to bifidobacterium-induced inhibitory phenomena.
PMCID: PMC154806  PMID: 12676665
10.  Bile Salt Inhibition of Host Cell Damage by Clostridium Difficile Toxins 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79631.
Virulent Clostridium difficile strains produce toxin A and/or toxin B that are the etiological agents of diarrhea and pseudomembranous colitis. Treatment of C. difficile infections (CDI) has been hampered by resistance to multiple antibiotics, sporulation, emergence of strains with increased virulence, recurrence of the infection, and the lack of drugs that preserve or restore the colonic bacterial flora. As a result, there is new interest in non-antibiotic CDI treatments. The human conjugated bile salt taurocholate was previously shown in our laboratory to inhibit C. difficile toxin A and B activities in an in vitro assay. Here we demonstrate for the first time in an ex vivo assay that taurocholate can protect Caco-2 colonic epithelial cells from the damaging effects of the C. difficile toxins. Using caspase-3 and lactate dehydrogenase assays, we have demonstrated that taurocholate reduced the extent of toxin B-induced apoptosis and cell membrane damage. Confluent Caco-2 cells cultured with toxin B induced elevated caspase-3 activity. Remarkably, addition of 5 mM taurocholate reduced caspase-3 activity in cells treated with 2, 4, 6, and 12 µg/ml of toxin B by 99%, 78%, 64%, and 60%, respectively. Furthermore, spent culture medium from Caco-2 cells incubated with both toxin B and taurocholate exhibited significantly decreased lactate dehydrogenase activity compared to spent culture medium from cells incubated with toxin B only. Our results suggest that the mechanism of taurocholate-mediated inhibition functions at the level of toxin activity since taurocholate did not affect C. difficile growth and toxin production. These findings open up a new avenue for the development of non-antibiotic therapeutics for CDI treatment.
PMCID: PMC3823588  PMID: 24244530
11.  Hypoxia-inducible factor signaling provides protection in Clostridium difficile-induced intestinal injury 
Gastroenterology  2010;139(1):259-69.e3.
Background & Aims
Clostridium difficile (C.difficile) is the leading cause of nosocomial infectious diarrhea. Increasing incidence, antibiotic resistance and more virulent strains have dramatically increased the number of C.difficile-related deaths worldwide. The innate host response mechanisms to C.difficile are not resolved; however, we hypothesize that hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF-1) plays an innate protective role in C.difficile colitis. Thus, we assessed the impact of C.difficile toxins on the regulation of HIF-1 and evaluated the role of HIF-1α in C.difficile-mediated injury/inflammation.
In vitro studies assessed HIF-1α mRNA, protein levels and DNA binding events in human mucosal biopsies and Caco-2 cells exposed to C.difficile toxins. In vivo studies employed the murine ileal loop model of C.difficile toxin-induced intestinal injury. Mice with targeted deletion of HIF-1α in the intestinal epithelium were used to assess the impact of HIF-1α signaling in response to C.difficile toxin.
Mucosal biopsies and Caco-2 cells exposed to C.difficile toxin displayed a significant increase in HIF-1α transcription and protein levels. Toxin-induced DNA binding was also observed in Caco-2 cells. Toxin-induced HIF-1α accumulation was attenuated by nitric oxide synthase inhibitors. In vivo, deletion of intestinal epithelial HIF-1α resulted in more severe toxin-induced intestinal injury and inflammation. In contrast, stabilization of HIF-1α, with dimethyloxallyl glycine, attenuated toxin-induced injury and inflammation. This was associated with an induction of HIF-1-regulated protective factors including VEGFa, CD73 and intestinal trefoil factor and down-regulation of proinflammatory molecules TNF and KC.
Our study is the first to describe the innate protective role for HIF-1α in response to C.difficile toxins. Harnessing the innate protective actions of HIF-1α in response to C.difficile toxins may represent a novel form of therapy for C.difficile-associated disease.
PMCID: PMC3063899  PMID: 20347817
HIF-1; Clostridium difficile; dimethyloxallyl glycine; epithelial barrier
12.  Structural and biochemical analyses of alanine racemase from the multidrug-resistant Clostridium difficile strain 630 
Structures of C. difficile alanine racemase in complex with the PLP cofactor and cycloserine are presented.
Clostridium difficile, a Gram-positive, spore-forming anaerobic bacterium, is the leading cause of infectious diarrhea among hospitalized patients. C. difficile is frequently associated with antibiotic treatment, and causes diseases ranging from antibiotic-associated diarrhea to life-threatening pseudo­membranous colitis. The severity of C. difficile infections is exacerbated by the emergence of hypervirulent and multidrug-resistant strains, which are difficult to treat and are often associated with increased mortality rates. Alanine racemase (Alr) is a pyridoxal-5′-phosphate (PLP)-dependent enzyme that catalyzes the reversible racemization of l- and d-alanine. Since d-alanine is an essential component of the bacterial cell-wall peptidoglycan, and there are no known Alr homologs in humans, this enzyme is being tested as an antibiotic target. Cycloserine is an antibiotic that inhibits Alr. In this study, the catalytic properties and crystal structures of recombinant Alr from the virulent and multidrug-resistant C. difficile strain 630 are presented. Three crystal structures of C. difficile Alr (CdAlr), corresponding to the complex with PLP, the complex with cycloserine and a K271T mutant form of the enzyme with bound PLP, are presented. The structures are prototypical Alr homodimers with two active sites in which the cofactor PLP and cycloserine are localized. Kinetic analyses reveal that the K271T mutant CdAlr has the highest catalytic constants reported to date for any Alr. Additional studies are needed to identify the basis for the high catalytic activity. The structural and activity data presented are first steps towards using CdAlr for the development of structure-based therapeutics for C. difficile infections.
PMCID: PMC4089486  PMID: 25004969
Clostridium difficile infection; alanine racemase; pyridoxal-5′-phosphate; drug development; multidrug resistance; nosocomial infections; cycloserine; structure-based drug design
13.  Tube feeding, the microbiota, and Clostridium difficile infection 
Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) is now the leading cause of nosocomial diarrhea in the USA, accounting for 30% of patients with antibiotic-associated diarrhea, 70% of those with antibiotic-associated colitis, and most cases of pseudomembranous colitis. The organism has evolved over the last 8 years to become more virulent and resistant to antimicrobials (NAP1/027 strain) causing a more severe form of the disease that has increased mortality and healthcare costs. While it is generally accepted that the problem results from the overuse of antibiotics, and in particular second and third generation cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones and macrolides, recent studies suggest that acid suppression with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) may be equally culpable. A further common, but less recognized, etiological factor is the prolonged use of elemental diets. Such diets are totally absorbed within the small intestine and therefore deprive the colonic microbiota of their source of nutrition, namely dietary fiber, fructose oligosaccharides, and resistant starch. The resultant suppression of colonic fermentation leads to suppression of the “good” bacteria, such as butyrate-producers (butyrate being essential for colonic mucosal health), and bifidobacteria and the creation of a “permissive” environment for C. difficile colonization and subsequent infection. Based on this analysis, the best chance of suppressing the emerging C. difficile epidemic is to adopt a 3-pronged attack consisting of (1) avoidance of the use of prophylactic antibiotics, (2) the avoidance of prophylactic PPIs, and (3) the conversion of elemental diet feeding to a diet containing adequate indigestible carbohydrate after the first week of critical illness. In this review, we highlight the rising worldwide incidence of C. difficile associated diarrhea and the role played by non-residue diets in destabilizing the colonic microbiota.
PMCID: PMC2806551  PMID: 20066732
Clostridium difficile; Elemental diets; Enteral nutrition; Microbiota
14.  Intravenous immunoglobulin therapy for severe Clostridium difficile colitis 
Gut  1997;41(3):366-370.
Background—Many individuals have serum antibodies against Clostridium difficile toxins. Those with an impaired antitoxin response may be susceptible to recurrent, prolonged, or severe C difficile diarrhoea and colitis. 
Aims—To examine whether treatment with intravenous immunoglobulin might be effective in patients with severe pseudomembranous colitis unresponsive to standard antimicrobial therapy. 
Patients—Two patients with pseudomembranous colitis not responding to metronidazole and vancomycin were given normal pooled human immunoglobulin intravenously (200-300 mg/kg). 
Methods—Antibodies against C difficile toxins were measured in nine immunoglobulin preparations by ELISA and by cytotoxin neutralisation assay. 
Results—Both patients responded quickly as shown by resolution of diarrhoea, abdominal tenderness, and distension. All immunoglobulin preparations tested contained IgG against C difficile toxins A and B by ELISA and neutralised the cytotoxic activity of C difficile toxins in vitro at IgG concentrations of 0.4-1.6 mg/ml. 
Conclusion—Passive immunotherapy with intravenous immunoglobulin may be a useful addition to antibiotic therapy for severe, refractory C difficile colitis. IgG antitoxin is present in standard immunoglobulin preparations and C difficile toxin neutralising activity is evident at IgG concentrations which are readily achieved in the serum by intravenous immunoglobulin administration. 

Keywords: Clostridium difficile; toxin; diarrhoea; IgG; immunotherapy; antibiotic
PMCID: PMC1891485  PMID: 9378393
15.  Profound Alterations of Intestinal Microbiota following a Single Dose of Clindamycin Results in Sustained Susceptibility to Clostridium difficile-Induced Colitis 
Infection and Immunity  2012;80(1):62-73.
Antibiotic-induced changes in the intestinal microbiota predispose mammalian hosts to infection with antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Clostridium difficile is a Gram-positive intestinal pathogen that causes colitis and diarrhea in patients following antibiotic treatment. Clindamycin predisposes patients to C. difficile colitis. Here, we have used Roche-454 16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing to longitudinally characterize the intestinal microbiota of mice following clindamycin treatment in the presence or absence of C. difficile infection. We show that a single dose of clindamycin markedly reduces the diversity of the intestinal microbiota for at least 28 days, with an enduring loss of ca. 90% of normal microbial taxa from the cecum. Loss of microbial complexity results in dramatic sequential expansion and contraction of a subset of bacterial taxa that are minor contributors to the microbial consortium prior to antibiotic treatment. Inoculation of clindamycin-treated mice with C. difficile (VPI 10463) spores results in rapid development of diarrhea and colitis, with a 4- to 5-day period of profound weight loss and an associated 40 to 50% mortality rate. Recovering mice resolve diarrhea and regain weight but remain highly infected with toxin-producing vegetative C. difficile bacteria and, in comparison to the acute stage of infection, have persistent, albeit ameliorated cecal and colonic inflammation. The microbiota of “recovered” mice remains highly restricted, and mice remain susceptible to C. difficile infection at least 10 days following clindamycin, suggesting that resolution of diarrhea and weight gain may result from the activation of mucosal immune defenses.
PMCID: PMC3255689  PMID: 22006564
16.  Toll-Like Receptor 5 Stimulation Protects Mice from Acute Clostridium difficile Colitis▿  
Infection and Immunity  2011;79(4):1498-1503.
Clostridium difficile is a spore-forming bacterium that infects the lower intestinal tract of humans and is the most common known cause of diarrhea among hospitalized patients. Clostridium difficile colitis is mediated by toxins and develops during or following antibiotic administration. We have used a murine model of C. difficile infection, which reproduces the major features of the human disease, to study the effect of innate immune activation on resistance to C. difficile infection. We found that administration of purified Salmonella-derived flagellin, a Toll-like receptor 5 (TLR5) agonist, protects mice from C. difficile colitis by delaying C. difficile growth and toxin production in the colon and cecum. TLR5 stimulation significantly improves pathological changes in the cecum and colon of C. difficile-infected mice and reduces epithelial cell loss. Flagellin treatment reduces epithelial apoptosis in the large intestine, thereby protecting the integrity of the intestinal epithelial barrier during C. difficile infection. We demonstrate that restoring intestinal innate immune tone by TLR stimulation in antibiotic-treated mice ameliorates intestinal inflammation and prevents death from C. difficile colitis, potentially providing an approach to prevent C. difficile-induced pathology.
PMCID: PMC3067529  PMID: 21245274
17.  The antimicrobial peptide cathelicidin modulates Clostridium difficile-associated colitis and toxin A-mediated enteritis in mice 
Gut  2012;62(9):1295-1305.
Clostridium difficile mediates intestinal inflammation by releasing toxin A (TxA), a potent enterotoxin. Cathelicidins (Camp as gene name, LL-37 peptide in humans and mCRAMP peptide in mice) are antibacterial peptides that also posses anti-inflammatory properties.
To determine the role of cathelicidins in models of Clostridium difficile infection and TxA-mediated ileal inflammation and cultured human primary monocytes.
Wild-type (WT) and mCRAMP-deficient (Camp−/−) mice were treated with an antibiotic mixture and infected orally with C difficile. Some mice were intracolonically given mCRAMP daily for 3 days. Ileal loops were also prepared in WT mice and treated with either saline or TxA and incubated for 4 h, while some TxA-treated loops were injected with mCRAMP.
Intracolonic mCRAMP administration to C difficile-infected WT mice showed significantly reduced colonic histology damage, apoptosis, tissue myeloperoxidase (MPO) and tumour necrosis factor (TNF)α levels. Ileal mCRAMP treatment also significantly reduced histology damage, tissue apoptosis, MPO and TNFα levels in TxA-exposed ileal loops. WT and Camp−/− mice exhibited similar intestinal responses in both models, implying that C difficile/TxA-induced endogenous cathelicidin may be insufficient to modulate C difficile/TxA-mediated intestinal inflammation. Both LL-37 and mCRAMP also significantly reduced TxA-induced TNFα secretion via inhibition of NF-κB phosphorylation. Endogenous cathelicidin failed to control C difficile and/or toxin A-mediated inflammation and even intestinal cathelicidin expression was increased in humans and mice.
Exogenous cathelicidin modulates C difficile colitis by inhibiting TxA-associated intestinal inflammation. Cathelicidin administration may be a new anti-inflammatory treatment for C difficile toxin-associated disease.
PMCID: PMC3737259  PMID: 22760006
18.  Identification of toxigenic Clostridium difficile by the polymerase chain reaction. 
Toxigenic strains of Clostridium difficile are causative agents of pseudomembranous colitis and antimicrobial agent-associated diarrhea and colitis. The toxigenicity is routinely assayed by using highly sensitive cell cultures. We used a simple and rapid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay to differentiate toxigenic and nontoxigenic strains of C. difficile. Two sets of oligonucleotide primer pairs derived from nonrepeating sequences of the toxin A gene were used to amplify 546- and 252-bp DNA fragments. A primer pair derived from repeating sequences of the toxin A gene was used to amplify a 1,266-bp DNA product. Amplified products were visualized by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis followed by ethidium bromide staining. All 35 cytotoxic strains of C. difficile tested generated the expected amplified DNA. In contrast, none of the 26 noncytotoxic strains tested gave positive results. Although the toxins of C. difficile have been demonstrated to cross-react serologically with the toxins of Clostridium sordellii, we did not detect any amplified DNA in two cytotoxic strains or seven noncytotoxic strains of C. sordellii. PCR was negative in all 30 strains of 20 other Clostridium species. Southern hybridization of HindIII-digested genomic DNA by use of subgenomic probes showed a single hybridization band in toxigenic strains but not in nontoxigenic strains. PCR appears to be a sensitive and specific assay for the rapid identification of toxigenic C. difficile. Nontoxigenic C. difficile appeared to lack the C. difficile toxin A gene.
PMCID: PMC269697  PMID: 1993763
19.  Clostridium difficile: its disease and toxins. 
Clostridium difficile is the etiologic agent of pseudomembranous colitis, a severe, sometimes fatal disease that occurs in adults undergoing antimicrobial therapy. The disease, ironically, has been most effectively treated with antibiotics, although some of the newer methods of treatment such as the replacement of the bowel flora may prove more beneficial for patients who continue to relapse with pseudomembranous colitis. The organism produces two potent exotoxins designated toxin A and toxin B. Toxin A is an enterotoxin believed to be responsible for the diarrhea and mucosal tissue damage which occur during the disease. Toxin B is an extremely potent cytotoxin, but its role in the disease has not been as well studied. There appears to be a cascade of events which result in the expression of the activity of these toxins, and these events, ranging from the recognition of a trisaccharide receptor by toxin A to the synergistic action of the toxins and their possible dissemination in the body, are discussed in this review. The advantages and disadvantages of the various assays, including tissue culture assay, enzyme immunoassay, and latex agglutination, currently used in the clinical diagnosis of the disease also are discussed.
PMCID: PMC358025  PMID: 3144429
20.  A Role for TLR4 in Clostridium difficile Infection and the Recognition of Surface Layer Proteins 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(6):e1002076.
Clostridium difficile is the etiological agent of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea (AAD) and pseudomembranous colitis in humans. The role of the surface layer proteins (SLPs) in this disease has not yet been fully explored. The aim of this study was to investigate a role for SLPs in the recognition of C. difficile and the subsequent activation of the immune system. Bone marrow derived dendritic cells (DCs) exposed to SLPs were assessed for production of inflammatory cytokines, expression of cell surface markers and their ability to generate T helper (Th) cell responses. DCs isolated from C3H/HeN and C3H/HeJ mice were used in order to examine whether SLPs are recognised by TLR4. The role of TLR4 in infection was examined in TLR4-deficient mice. SLPs induced maturation of DCs characterised by production of IL-12, TNFα and IL-10 and expression of MHC class II, CD40, CD80 and CD86. Furthermore, SLP-activated DCs generated Th cells producing IFNγ and IL-17. SLPs were unable to activate DCs isolated from TLR4-mutant C3H/HeJ mice and failed to induce a subsequent Th cell response. TLR4−/− and Myd88−/−, but not TRIF−/− mice were more susceptible than wild-type mice to C. difficile infection. Furthermore, SLPs activated NFκB, but not IRF3, downstream of TLR4. Our results indicate that SLPs isolated from C. difficile can activate innate and adaptive immunity and that these effects are mediated by TLR4, with TLR4 having a functional role in experimental C. difficile infection. This suggests an important role for SLPs in the recognition of C. difficile by the immune system.
Author Summary
Clostridium difficile is the leading cause of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea among hospital patients and in severe cases can cause pseudomembranous colitis and even death. There is currently limited information regarding how this pathogen is recognised by the immune system and the key mechanisms necessary for clearance of the pathogen. C. difficile expresses a paracrystalline surface protein array, termed an S-layer, composed of surface layer proteins (SLPs). Their location on the outer surface of the bacteria suggests that they may be involved in immune recognition of the pathogen. In this study we demonstrate that these SLPs are recognised by toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4). Activation of TLR4 by SLPs resulted in maturation of dendritic cells and subsequent activation of T helper cell responses which are known to be important in clearance of pathogens. Furthermore, using a murine model of C. difficile infection we show that mice display increased severity of infection in the absence of TLR4. This is the first study to demonstrate a role for TLR4 in infection associated with C. difficile and suggests an important role for SLPs in the generation of the immune response necessary for clearance of this bacterium.
PMCID: PMC3128122  PMID: 21738466
21.  Bovine immunoglobulin concentrate-Clostridium difficile retains C difficile toxin neutralising activity after passage through the human stomach and small intestine 
Gut  1999;44(2):212-217.
Background—Bovine immunoglobulin concentrate (BIC)-Clostridium difficile is prepared from the colostrum of cows immunised against C difficile toxins and contains high concentrations of neutralising IgG antitoxin. 
Aims—To determine the proportion of BIC-C difficile which survives passage through the human stomach and small intestine. 
Methods—Six volunteers with an end ileostomy took 5 g of BIC-C difficile containing 2.1 g of bovine IgG on four occasions: alone, with an antacid, during treatment with omeprazole, and within enteric coated capsules. 
Results—When BIC-C difficile was taken alone, a mean (SEM) of 1033 (232) mg of bovine IgG was recovered in the ileal fluid representing 49% of the total ingested dose. Bovine IgG recovery was not significantly increased by antacid (636 (129) mg) or omeprazole (1052 (268) mg). The enteric capsules frequently remained intact or only partially opened in the ileal effluent and free bovine IgG levels were low in this treatment group (89(101) mg). Bovine IgG recovery was higher in volunteers with shorter (less than two hours) mouth to ileum transit times (68% versus 36%, p<0.05). Specific bovine IgG against C difficile toxin A was detected in ileal fluid following oral BIC. Toxin neutralising activity was also present and correlated closely with bovine IgG levels (r=0.95, p<0.001). 
Conclusion—BIC-C difficile resists digestion in the human upper gastrointestinal tract and specific anti-C difficile toxin A binding and neutralising activity was retained. Passive oral immunotherapy with anti-C difficile BIC may be a useful non-antibiotic approach to the prevention and treatment of C difficile antibiotic associated diarrhoea and colitis. 

Keywords: pseudomembranous colitis; toxin; diarrhoea; IgG; immunotherapy; antibiotic; Clostridium difficile
PMCID: PMC1727384  PMID: 9895380
22.  Study of the frequency of Clostridium difficile tcdA, tcdB, cdtA and cdtB genes in feces of Calves in south west of Iran 
Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) is a gram-positive, toxin-producing bacillus which is an intestinal pathogen in both humans and animals and causes a range of digestive disorders including inflammation of the bowel, abdominal pain, fever and diarrhea. C. difficile toxins include enterotoxin (Toxin A), cytotoxin (Toxin B) and a binary toxin. Two large protein toxins A and B are encoded by separate genes, tcdA and tcdB. Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) mainly caused by the activity of the genes tcdA and tcdB. The binary toxin is encoded by the genes cdtA and cdtB. The binary toxin caused increased adherence of bacteria to intestinal epithelium. The aim of the present study was isolation of C. difficile from feces of calves, and study of the frequency of C. difficile virulence genes.
150 samples of fresh feces from calves were collected and C. difficile was isolated from feces of calves using bacterial culture methods. DNA was extracted by a genomic DNA purification kit. Then PCR method was used for definitive diagnosis of C. difficile. Multiplex PCR method performed for identification of tcdA, tcdB, cdtA and cdtB genes. In the final stage antimicrobial resistance determining was carried out by standard Bauer-Kirby disk diffusion method.
C. difficile was isolated from 90 samples (60%). The tcdA was observed in 8 isolates (8.8%), tcdB in 16 isolates (17.7%), cdtA in 8 isolates (8.8%) and cdtB in 14 isolates (15.5%). Only 1 isolated (1.1%) was containing all four genes tcdA, tcdB, cdtA and cdtB, 2 isolates (2.2%) only had both tcdA and tcdB genes, and there was no sample positive only for both cdtA and cdtB. The highest rate of drug resistance was against clindamycin (100%) and the highest rate of drug sensitivity was against ciprofloxacin (50%).
The results showed high incidence of C. difficile and also high antibiotic resistance of this bacterium, but frequency of strains containing virulence genes (tcdA, tcdB, cdtA and cdtB) was low.
PMCID: PMC4060091  PMID: 24903619
Clostridium difficile; Calves; Toxin A; Toxin B; Binary toxin
23.  Secretion of Clostridium difficile Toxins A and B Requires the Holin-like Protein TcdE 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(6):e1002727.
The pathogenesis of Clostridium difficile, the major cause of antibiotic-associated diarrhea, is mainly associated with the production and activities of two major toxins. In many bacteria, toxins are released into the extracellular environment via the general secretion pathways. C. difficile toxins A and B have no export signature and their secretion is not explainable by cell lysis, suggesting that they might be secreted by an unusual mechanism. The TcdE protein encoded within the C. difficile pathogenicity locus (PaLoc) has predicted structural features similar to those of bacteriophage holin proteins. During many types of phage infection, host lysis is driven by an endolysin that crosses the cytoplasmic membrane through a pore formed by holin oligomerization. We demonstrated that TcdE has a holin-like activity by functionally complementing a λ phage deprived of its holin. Similar to λ holin, TcdE expressed in Escherichia coli and C. difficile formed oligomers in the cytoplamic membrane. A C. difficile tcdE mutant strain grew at the same rate as the wild-type strain, but accumulated a dramatically reduced amount of toxin proteins in the medium. However, the complemented tcdE mutant released the toxins efficiently. There was no difference in the abundance of tcdA and tcdB transcripts or of several cytoplasmic proteins in the mutant and the wild-type strains. In addition, TcdE did not overtly affect membrane integrity of C. difficile in the presence of TcdA/TcdB. Thus, TcdE acts as a holin-like protein to facilitate the release of C. difficile toxins to the extracellular environment, but, unlike the phage holins, does not cause the non-specific release of cytosolic contents. TcdE appears to be the first example of a bacterial protein that releases toxins into the environment by a phage-like system.
Author Summary
Clostridium difficile is the causative agent of antibiotic associated diarrhea and has become the most prevalent cause of infectious nosocomial diarrhea in North America and in several countries in Europe. Most virulent strains of C. difficile produce two high molecular weight toxins that are regarded as the primary virulence factors. The mechanism by which these large toxins are secreted from bacterial cells is not known. Unlike most clostridial toxins, they have no export signature and must be secreted by an unusual system. This work investigated the role of a C. difficile membrane protein TcdE in the release of toxins from the bacterial cell. We showed that C. difficile tcdE mutants were defective in toxin release and present evidence that C. difficile TcdE protein activity is similar to that of bacteriophage holin proteins required for lysis of host cells after intracellular phage development. These results suggest that TcdE helps efficient secretion of toxins by a phage type system. However, unlike phages, TcdE does not induce cell lysis. A detailed, mechanistic understanding of the holin-dependent system that mediates toxin secretion may helpful for the development of strategies for preventing and treating C. difficile infections.
PMCID: PMC3369941  PMID: 22685398
24.  Effect of Novel A2A Adenosine Receptor Agonist ATL 313 on Clostridium difficile Toxin A-Induced Murine Ileal Enteritis  
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(5):2606-2612.
Clostridium difficile is a spore-forming, anaerobic, gram-positive bacillus that releases two main virulence factors: toxins A and B. Toxin A plays an important pathogenic role in antibiotic-induced diarrhea and pseudomembranous colitis, a condition characterized by intense mucosal inflammation and secretion. Agonist activity at A2A adenosine receptors attenuates inflammation and damage in many tissues. This study evaluated the effects of a new selective A2A adenosine receptor agonist (ATL 313) on toxin A-induced injury in murine ileal loops. ATL 313 (0.5 to 5 nM) and/or the A2A adenosine receptor antagonist (ZM241385; 5 nM) or phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) were injected into ileal loops immediately prior to challenge with toxin A (1 to 10 μg/loop) or PBS. Intestinal fluid volume/length and weight/length ratios were calculated 3 h later. Ileal tissues were collected for the measurement of myeloperoxidase, adenosine deaminase activity, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) production, histopathology, and detection of cell death by the TUNEL (terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase-mediated dUTP-biotin nick end labeling) method. Toxin A significantly increased volume/length and weight/length ratios in a dose-dependent fashion. ATL 313 treatment significantly (P < 0.05) reduced toxin A-induced secretion and edema, prevented mucosal disruption, and neutrophil infiltration as measured by myeloperoxidase activity. ATL 313 also reduced the toxin A-induced TNF-α production and adenosine deaminase activity and prevented toxin A-induced cell death. These protective effects of ATL 313 were reversed by ZM241385. In conclusion, the A2A adenosine receptor agonist, ATL 313, reduces tissue injury and inflammation in mice with toxin A-induced enteritis. The finding of increased ileal adenosine deaminase activity following the administration of toxin A is new and might contribute to the pathogenesis of the toxin A-induced enteritis by deaminating endogenous adenosine.
PMCID: PMC1459724  PMID: 16622196
25.  Anti-Clostridium difficile Potential of Tetramic Acid Derivatives from Pseudomonas aeruginosa Quorum-Sensing Autoinducers▿ †  
We have examined the potential bactericidal activities of several tetramic acids derived from Pseudomonas autoinducers against Clostridium difficile, a cause of antibiotic-associated pseudomembranous colitis. Clinical isolates of C. difficile (n = 4) were incubated in broth with a chemically synthesized Pseudomonas autoinducer and its tetramic acid derivatives. The structure-activity relationship and the mechanisms of action were examined by a time-killing assay and by determination of the morphological/staining characteristics. The use of some tetramic acids derived from N-3-oxododecanoyl l-homoserine lactone resulted in more than 3-log reductions in the viability of C. difficile within 30 min at 30 μM. The outer membrane was suggested to be one of the targets for the bactericidal activity of tetramic acid, because disturbance of the bacterial outer surface was demonstrated by alteration of the Gram-staining characteristic and electron microscopy. The data for the tetramic acid derivatives demonstrate that the keto-enol structure and the length of the acyl side chain of tetramic acid may be essential for the antibacterial activity of this molecule. These results suggest the potential for tetramic acid derivatives to be novel agents with activity against C. difficile.
PMCID: PMC2812153  PMID: 19917748

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