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1.  Concomitant Exposure to Ovalbumin and Endotoxin Augments Airway Inflammation but Not Airway Hyperresponsiveness in a Murine Model of Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98648.
Varying concentrations of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in ovalbumin (OVA) may influence the airway response to allergic sensitization and challenge. We assessed the contribution of LPS to allergic airway inflammatory responses following challenge with LPS-rich and LPS-free commercial OVA. BALB/c mice were sensitized with LPS-rich OVA and alum and then underwent challenge with the same OVA (10 µg intranasally) or an LPS-free OVA. Following challenge, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), airway responsiveness to methacholine and the lung regulatory T cell population (Treg) were assessed. Both OVA preparations induced BAL eosinophilia but LPS-rich OVA also evoked BAL neutrophilia. LPS-free OVA increased interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4 and IL-5 whereas LPS-rich OVA additionally increased IL-1β, IL-12, IFN-γ, TNF-α and KC. Both OVA-challenged groups developed airway hyperresponsiveness. TLR4-deficient mice challenged with either OVA preparation showed eosinophilia but not neutrophilia and had increased IL-5. Only LPS-rich OVA challenged mice had increased lung Tregs and LPS-rich OVA also induced in vitro Treg differentiation. LPS-rich OVA also induced a Th1 cytokine response in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells.We conclude that LPS-rich OVA evokes mixed Th1, Th2 and innate immune responses through the TLR-4 pathway, whereas LPS-free OVA evokes only a Th2 response. Contaminating LPS is not required for induction of airway hyperresponsiveness but amplifies the Th2 inflammatory response and is a critical mediator of the neutrophil, Th1 and T regulatory cell responses to OVA.
PMCID: PMC4072597  PMID: 24968337
2.  Movers and shakers 
Gut Microbes  2013;4(1):4-16.
The human intestinal microbiota is one of the most densely populated ecosystems on Earth, containing up to 1013 bacteria/g and in some respects can be considered an organ itself given its role in human health. Bacteriophages (phages) are the most abundant replicating entities on the planet and thrive wherever their bacterial hosts exist. They undoubtedly influence the dominant microbial populations in many ecosystems including the human intestine. Within this setting, lysogeny appears to be the preferred life cycle, presumably due to nutrient limitations and lack of suitable hosts protected in biofilms, hence the predator/prey dynamic observed in many ecosystems is absent. On the other hand, free virulent phages in the gut are more common among sufferers of intestinal diseases and have been shown to increase with antibiotic usage. Many of these phages evolve from prophages of intestinal bacteria and emerge under conditions where their bacterial hosts encounter stress suggesting that prophages can significantly alter the microbial community composition. Based on these observations, we propose the “community shuffling” model which hypothesizes that prophage induction contributes to intestinal dysbiosis by altering the ratio of symbionts to pathobionts, enabling pathobiont niche reoccupation. The consequences of the increased phage load on the mammalian immune system are also addressed. While this is an area of intestinal biology which has received little attention, this review assembles evidence from the literature which supports the role of phages as one of the biological drivers behind the composition of the gut microbiota.
PMCID: PMC3555884  PMID: 23022738
gut; microbiota; bacteriophages; phages; prophages; induction; community shuffling
3.  Antimicrobials 
Gut Microbes  2013;4(1):48-53.
Obesity is associated with a number of serious health consequences, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and a variety of cancers among others and has been repeatedly shown to be associated with a higher risk of mortality. The relatively recent discovery that the composition and metabolic activity of the gut microbiota may affect the risk of developing obesity and related disorders has led to an explosion of interest in this distinct research field. A corollary of these findings would suggest that modulation of gut microbial populations can have beneficial effects with respect to controlling obesity. In this addendum, we summarize our recent data, showing that therapeutic manipulation of the microbiota using different antimicrobial strategies may be a useful approach for the management of obesity and metabolic conditions. In addition, we will explore some of the mechanisms that may contribute to microbiota-induced susceptibility to obesity and metabolic diseases.
PMCID: PMC3555886  PMID: 23018760
obesity; antimicrobials; gut microbiota; firmicutes; metabolic disease
4.  Depth-Dependent Differences in Community Structure of the Human Colonic Microbiota in Health 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e78835.
The aims of this study were to develop techniques for spatial microbial assessment in humans and to establish colonic luminal and mucosal spatial ecology, encompassing longitudinal and cross-sectional axes.
A microbiological protected specimen brush was used in conjunction with a biopsy forceps to sample the colon in nine healthy volunteers undergoing colonoscopy. Terminal Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism analysis was used to determine the major variables in the spatial organization of the colonic microbiota.
Protected Specimen Brush sampling retrieved region-specific, uncontaminated samples that were enriched for bacterial DNA and depleted in human DNA when compared to biopsy samples. Terminal Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism analysis revealed a segmentation of bacterial communities between the luminal brush and biopsy-associated ecological niches with little variability across the longitudinal axis of the colon and reduced diversity in brush samples.
These results support the concept of a microbiota with little longitudinal variability but with some degree of segregation between luminal and mucosal communities.
PMCID: PMC3819420  PMID: 24223167
5.  Natural Killer Cells Protect against Mucosal and Systemic Infection with the Enteric Pathogen Citrobacter rodentium 
Infection and Immunity  2013;81(2):460-469.
Natural killer (NK) cells are traditionally considered in the context of tumor surveillance and viral defense, but their role in bacterial infections, particularly those caused by enteric pathogens, is less clear. C57BL/6 mice were orally gavaged with Citrobacter rodentium, a murine pathogen related to human diarrheagenic Escherichia coli. We used polyclonal anti-asialo GM1 antibody to actively deplete NK cells in vivo. Bioluminescent imaging and direct counts were used to follow infection. Flow cytometry and immunofluorescence microscopy were used to analyze immune responses. During C. rodentium infection, NK cells were recruited to mucosal tissues, where they expressed a diversity of immune-modulatory factors. Depletion of NK cells led to higher bacterial loads but less severe colonic inflammation, associated with reduced immune cell recruitment and lower cytokine levels. NK cell-depleted mice also developed disseminated systemic infection, unlike control infected mice. NK cells were also cytotoxic to C. rodentium in vitro.
PMCID: PMC3553819  PMID: 23208605
6.  Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 modulates host inflammatory processes beyond the gut 
Gut Microbes  2013;4(4):325-339.
Certain therapeutic microbes, including Bifidobacteria infantis (B. infantis) 35624 exert beneficial immunoregulatory effects by mimicking commensal-immune interactions; however, the value of these effects in patients with non-gastrointestinal inflammatory conditions remains unclear. In this study, we assessed the impact of oral administration of B. infantis 35624, for 6‒8 weeks on inflammatory biomarker and plasma cytokine levels in patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) (n = 22), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) (n = 48) and psoriasis (n = 26) in three separate randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled interventions. Additionally, the effect of B. infantis 35624 on immunological biomarkers in healthy subjects (n = 22) was assessed. At baseline, both gastrointestinal (UC) and non-gastrointestinal (CFS and psoriasis) patients had significantly increased plasma levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and the pro-inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) compared with healthy volunteers. B. infantis 35624 feeding resulted in reduced plasma CRP levels in all three inflammatory disorders compared with placebo. Interestingly, plasma TNF-α was reduced in CFS and psoriasis while IL-6 was reduced in UC and CFS. Furthermore, in healthy subjects, LPS-stimulated TNF-α and IL-6 secretion by peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) was significantly reduced in the B. infantis 35624-treated groups compared with placebo following eight weeks of feeding. These results demonstrate the ability of this microbe to reduce systemic pro-inflammatory biomarkers in both gastrointestinal and non-gastrointestinal conditions. In conclusion, these data show that the immunomodulatory effects of the microbiota in humans are not limited to the mucosal immune system but extend to the systemic immune system.
PMCID: PMC3744517  PMID: 23842110
B. infantis 35624; inflammation; immunity; microbiota; C-reactive protein
7.  Targeting the Microbiota to Address Diet-Induced Obesity: A Time Dependent Challenge 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65790.
Links between the gut microbiota and host metabolism have provided new perspectives on obesity. We previously showed that the link between the microbiota and fat deposition is age- and time-dependent subject to microbial adaptation to diet over time. We also demonstrated reduced weight gain in diet-induced obese (DIO) mice through manipulation of the gut microbiota with vancomycin or with the bacteriocin-producing probiotic Lactobacillus salivarius UCC118 (Bac+), with metabolic improvement achieved in DIO mice in receipt of vancomycin. However, two phases of weight gain were observed with effects most marked early in the intervention phase. Here, we compare the gut microbial populations at the early relative to the late stages of intervention using a high throughput sequencing-based analysis to understand the temporal relationship between the gut microbiota and obesity. This reveals several differences in microbiota composition over the intervening period. Vancomycin dramatically altered the gut microbiota composition, relative to controls, at the early stages of intervention after which time some recovery was evident. It was also revealed that Bac+ treatment initially resulted in the presence of significantly higher proportions of Peptococcaceae and significantly lower proportions of Rikenellaceae and Porphyromonadaceae relative to the gut microbiota of L. salivarius UCC118 bacteriocin negative (Bac-) administered controls. These differences were no longer evident at the later time. The results highlight the resilience of the gut microbiota and suggest that interventions may need to be monitored and continually adjusted to ensure sustained modification of the gut microbiota.
PMCID: PMC3676335  PMID: 23762426
8.  Risk factors for hand injury in hurling: a cross-sectional study 
BMJ Open  2013;3(5):e002634.
Hurling is Ireland's national sport, played with a stick and ball; injury to the hand is common. A decrease in the proportion of head injury among emergency department (ED) presentations for hurling-related injury has coincided with voluntary use of helmet and face protection since 2003. A similar decrease in proportions has not occurred in hand injury. We aim to quantify hurling-related ED presentations and examine variables associated with injury. In particular, we were interested in comparing the occurrence of hand injury in those using head and face protection versus those who did not.
This study utilised a retrospective cross-sectional study design.
This study took place at a university hospital ED over a 3-month period.
Outcome measures
A follow-up telephone interview was performed with 163 players aged ≥16 years to reflect voluntary versus obligatory helmet use.
The hand was most often injured (n=85, 52.1%). Hand injury most commonly occurred from a blow of a hurley (n=104, 65%), and fracture was confirmed in 62% of cases. Two-thirds of players (66.3%) had multiple previous (1–5) hand injuries. Most patients 149 (91.4%) had tried commercially available hand protection, but only 4.9% used hand protection regularly. Univariate analysis showed a statistically significant association between wearing a helmet and faceguard and hand injury; OR 2.76 (95% CI 1.42 to 5.37) p=0.003. On further analysis adjusting simultaneously for age, prior injury, foul play and being struck by a hurley, this relationship remained significant (OR 3.15 95% CI 1.51 to 6.56, p=0.002).
We report that hurling-related hand injury is common. We noted the low uptake of hand protection. We found that hand injury was significantly associated with the use of helmet and faceguard protection, independent of the other factors studied. Further studies are warranted to develop strategies to minimise the occurrence of this injury.
PMCID: PMC3657669  PMID: 23793666
Sports Medicine
9.  The gut microbiota and its relationship to diet and obesity 
Gut Microbes  2012;3(3):186-202.
Obesity develops from a prolonged imbalance of energy intake and energy expenditure. However, the relatively recent discovery that the composition and function of the gut microbiota impacts on obesity has lead to an explosion of interest in what is now a distinct research field. Here, research relating to the links between the gut microbiota, diet and obesity will be reviewed under five major headings: (1) the gut microbiota of lean and obese animals, (2) the composition of the gut microbiota of lean and obese humans, (3) the impact of diet on the gut microbiota, (4) manipulating the gut microbiota and (5) the mechanisms by which the gut microbiota can impact on weight gain.
PMCID: PMC3427212  PMID: 22572830
gut microbiota; intervention; prebiotic; probiotic; diet and obesity
10.  Portrait of an immunoregulatory bifidobacterium 
Gut Microbes  2012;3(3):261-266.
There is increasing interest in the administration of microbes or microbial metabolites for the prevention and treatment of aberrant inflammatory activity. The protective effects associated with these microbes are mediated by multiple mechanisms involving epithelial cells, DCs and T cells, but most data are derived from animal models. In this addendum, we summarize our recent data, showing that oral consumption of Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 is associated with enhanced IL-10 secretion and Foxp3 expression in human peripheral blood. In addition, we discuss the potential DC subset-specific mechanisms, which could contribute to DCREG and TREG programming by specific gut microbes.
PMCID: PMC3427218  PMID: 22572827
bifidobacteria; dendritic cells; immunoregulation; microbiota; pattern recognition receptors; retinoic acid
11.  The Sphingosine-1-Phosphate Analogue FTY720 Impairs Mucosal Immunity and Clearance of the Enteric Pathogen Citrobacter rodentium 
Infection and Immunity  2012;80(8):2712-2723.
The sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) analogue FTY720 is therapeutically efficacious in multiple sclerosis and in the prevention of transplant rejection. It prevents the migration of lymphocytes to sites of pathology by trapping them within the peripheral lymph nodes, mesenteric lymph nodes (MLNs), and Peyer's patches. However, evidence suggests that its clinical use may increase the risk of mucosal infections. We investigated the impact of FTY720 treatment on susceptibility to gastrointestinal infection with the mouse enteric pathogen Citrobacter rodentium. This attaching and effacing bacterium induces a transient bacterial colitis in immunocompetent mice that resembles human infection with pathogenic Escherichia coli. FTY720 treatment induced peripheral blood lymphopenia, trapped lymphocytes in the MLNs, and prevented the clearance of bacteria when mice were infected with luciferase-tagged C. rodentium. FTY720-treated C. rodentium-infected mice had enhanced colonic inflammation, with significantly higher colon mass, colon histopathology, and neutrophil infiltration than vehicle-infected animals. In addition, FTY720-treated infected mice had significantly lower numbers of colonic dendritic cells, macrophages, and T cells. Gene expression analysis demonstrated that FTY720-treated infected mice had an impaired innate immune response and a blunted mucosal adaptive immune response, including Th1 cytokines. The data demonstrate that the S1P analogue FTY720 adversely affects the immune response to and clearance of C. rodentium.
PMCID: PMC3434556  PMID: 22615252
12.  Bifidobacterium breve with α-Linolenic Acid and Linoleic Acid Alters Fatty Acid Metabolism in the Maternal Separation Model of Irritable Bowel Syndrome 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48159.
The aim of this study was to compare the impact of dietary supplementation with a Bifidobacterium breve strain together with linoleic acid & α-linolenic acid, for 7 weeks, on colonic sensitivity and fatty acid metabolism in rats. Maternally separated and non-maternally separated Sprague Dawley rats (n = 15) were orally gavaged with either B. breve DPC6330 (109 microorganisms/day) alone or in combination with 0.5% (w/w) linoleic acid & 0.5% (w/w) α-linolenic acid, daily for 7 weeks and compared with trehalose and bovine serum albumin. Tissue fatty acid composition was assessed by gas-liquid chromatography and visceral hypersensitivity was assessed by colorectal distension. Significant differences in the fatty acid profiles of the non-separated controls and maternally separated controls were observed for α-linolenic acid and arachidonic acid in the liver, oleic acid and eicosenoic acid (c11) in adipose tissue, and for palmitoleic acid and docosahexaenoic acid in serum (p<0.05). Administration of B. breve DPC6330 to MS rats significantly increased palmitoleic acid, arachidonic acid and docosahexaenoic acid in the liver, eicosenoic acid (c11) in adipose tissue and palmitoleic acid in the prefrontal cortex (p<0.05), whereas feeding B. breve DPC6330 to non separated rats significantly increased eicosapentaenoic acid and docosapentaenoic acid in serum (p<0.05) compared with the NS un-supplemented controls. Administration of B. breve DPC6330 in combination with linoleic acid and α-linolenic acid to maternally separated rats significantly increased docosapentaenoic acid in the serum (p<0.01) and α-linolenic acid in adipose tissue (p<0.001), whereas feeding B. breve DPC6330 with fatty acid supplementation to non-separated rats significantly increased liver and serum docosapentaenoic acid (p<0.05), and α-linolenic acid in adipose tissue (p<0.001). B. breve DPC6330 influenced host fatty acid metabolism. Administration of B. breve DPC6330 to maternally separated rats significantly modified the palmitoleic acid, arachidonic acid and docosahexaenoic acid contents in tissues. The effect was not observed in non-separated animals.
PMCID: PMC3502412  PMID: 23185248
13.  Computed Tomography Assessment of Intestinal Gas Volumes in Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders 
Many patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) rank sensations of bloating and distension among their most debilitating symptoms. Previous studies that have examined intestinal gas volume (IGV) in patients with FGIDs have employed a variety of invasive and imaging techniques. These studies are limited by small numbers and have shown conflicting results. The aim of our study was to estimate, using CT of the abdomen and pelvis (CTAP), IGV in patients attending FGID clinic and to compare IGV in patients with and without FGID.
All CTAP (n = 312) performed on patients (n = 207) attending a specialized FGID clinic over 10-year period were included in this study. Patients were classified into one of 3 groups according to the established clinical grading system, as organic gastrointestinal disorder (OGID, ie, patients with an organic non-functional disorder, n = 84), FGID (n = 36) or organic and functional gastrointestinal disorder (OFGID, ie, patients with an organic and a functional disorder, n = 87). Two independent readers blinded to the diagnostic group calculated IGV using threshold based 3D region growing with OsiriX.
Median IGVs for the FGID, OGID, and OFGID groups were 197.6, 220.6 and 155.0 mL, respectively. Stepwise linear regression revealed age at study, gender, and calculated body mass index to predict the log IGV with an r2 of 0.116, and P < 0.001. There was a significant positive correlation between age and IGV in OGID (Spearman's = 0.253, P = 0.02) but this correlation was non-significant in the other groups.
Although bloating is a classic symptom in FGID patients, IGV may not be increased compared with OGID and OFGID patients.
PMCID: PMC3479256  PMID: 23106003
Gastrointestinal diseases; Irritable bowel syndrome; Tomography, X-ray computed
14.  Clostridium difficile Carriage in Elderly Subjects and Associated Changes in the Intestinal Microbiota 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2012;50(3):867-875.
Clostridium difficile is an important nosocomial pathogen associated particularly with diarrheal disease in elderly individuals in hospitals and long-term care facilities. We examined the carriage rate of Clostridium difficile by culture as a function of fecal microbiota composition in elderly subjects recruited from the community, including outpatient, short-term respite, and long-term hospital stay subjects. The carriage rate ranged from 1.6% (n = 123) for subjects in the community, to 9.5% (n = 43) in outpatient settings, and increasing to 21% (n = 151) for patients in short- or long-term care in hospital. The dominant 072 ribotype was carried by 43% (12/28) of subjects, while the hypervirulent strain R027 (B1/NAP1/027) was isolated from 3 subjects (11%), 2 of whom displayed C. difficile associated diarrhea (CDAD) symptoms at the time of sampling. Emerging ribotypes with enhanced virulence (078 and 018) were also isolated from two asymptomatic subjects. Pyrosequencing of rRNA gene amplicons was used to determine the composition of the fecal microbiota as a surrogate for the microbial population structure of the distal intestine. Asymptomatic subjects (n = 20) from whom C. difficile was isolated showed no dramatic difference at the phylum or family taxonomic level compared to those that were culture negative (n = 252). However, in contrast, a marked reduction in microbial diversity at genus level was observed in patients who had been diagnosed with CDAD at the time of sampling and from whom C. difficile R027 was isolated.
PMCID: PMC3295116  PMID: 22162545
15.  Bifidobacterium Infantis 35624 Protects Against Salmonella-Induced Reductions in Digestive Enzyme Activity in Mice by Attenuation of the Host Inflammatory Response 
Salmonella-induced damage to the small intestine may decrease the villi-associated enzyme activity, causing malabsorption of nutrients and diarrhea, and thus contribute to the symptoms of infection. The objective of this study was to determine the mechanism by which different doses and durations of Salmonella infection and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) affect brush border enzyme activity in the mouse, and to determine if the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum subspecies infantis 35624 could attenuate the intestinal damage.
BALB/c mice were challenged with Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium UK1 at various doses (102–108 colony-forming unit (CFU)) and durations (106 CFU for 1–6 days). Mice were also treated with B. longum subsp. infantis 35624 for 2 weeks before and during a 6-day S. Typhimurium challenge (106 CFU), or before injection of LPS. The small intestine was assessed for morphological changes, mRNA expression of cytokines, and activity of the brush border enzymes sucrase–isomaltase, maltase, and alkaline phosphatase.
S. Typhimurium infection significantly reduced the activity of all brush border enzymes in a dose- and time-dependent manner (P<0.05). This also occurred following injection of LPS. Pre-treatment with B. longum subsp. infantis 35624 prevented weight loss, protected brush border enzyme activity, reduced the small intestinal damage, and inhibited the increase in interleukin (IL)-10 and IL-8 expression due to Salmonella challenge.
Salmonella infection reduces the small intestinal brush border enzyme activity in mice, with the level of reduction and associated weight loss increasing with dose and duration of infection. B. longum subsp. infantis 35624 treatment attenuated the effect of Salmonella infection on brush border enzyme activity and weight loss, which may be due to modulation of the host immune response.
PMCID: PMC3367613  PMID: 23238232
16.  Minimization of Radiation Exposure due to Computed Tomography in Inflammatory Bowel Disease 
ISRN Gastroenterology  2012;2012:790279.
Patient awareness and concern regarding the potential health risks from ionizing radiation have peaked recently (Coakley et al., 2011) following widespread press and media coverage of the projected cancer risks from the increasing use of computed tomography (CT) (Berrington et al., 2007). The typical young and educated patient with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may in particular be conscious of his/her exposure to ionising radiation as a result of diagnostic imaging. Cumulative effective doses (CEDs) in patients with IBD have been reported as being high and are rising, primarily due to the more widespread and repeated use of CT (Desmond et al., 2008). Radiologists, technologists, and referring physicians have a responsibility to firstly counsel their patients accurately regarding the actual risks of ionizing radiation exposure; secondly to limit the use of those imaging modalities which involve ionising radiation to clinical situations where they are likely to change management; thirdly to ensure that a diagnostic quality imaging examination is acquired with lowest possible radiation exposure. In this paper, we synopsize available evidence related to radiation exposure and risk and we report advances in low-dose CT technology and examine the role for alternative imaging modalities such as ultrasonography or magnetic resonance imaging which avoid radiation exposure.
PMCID: PMC3332204  PMID: 22577571
17.  Bacteriophages ϕMR299-2 and ϕNH-4 Can Eliminate Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the Murine Lung and on Cystic Fibrosis Lung Airway Cells 
mBio  2012;3(2):e00029-12.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common cause of infection in the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). In addition, biofilm formation and antibiotic resistance of Pseudomonas are major problems that can complicate antibiotic therapy. We evaluated the efficacy of using bacteriophages to kill the pathogen in both biofilms and in the murine lung. We isolated and characterized two phages from a local wastewater treatment plant, a myovirus (ϕNH-4) and a podovirus (ϕMR299-2). Both phages were active against clinical isolates of P. aeruginosa. Together, the two phages killed all 9 clinical isolate strains tested, including both mucoid and nonmucoid strains. An equal mixture of the two phages was effective in killing P. aeruginosa NH57388A (mucoid) and P. aeruginosa MR299 (nonmucoid) strains when growing as a biofilm on a cystic fibrosis bronchial epithelial CFBE41o- cell line. Phage titers increased almost 100-fold over a 24-h period, confirming replication of the phage. Furthermore, the phage mix was also effective in killing the pathogen in murine lungs containing 1 × 107 to 2 × 107 P. aeruginosa. Pseudomonas was effectively cleared (reduced by a magnitude of at least 3 to 4 log units) from murine lungs in 6 h. Our study demonstrates the efficacy of these two phages in killing clinical Pseudomonas isolates in the murine lung or as a biofilm on a pulmonary cell line and supports the growing interest in using phage therapy for the control and treatment of multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas lung infections in CF patients.
Given the rise in antibiotic resistance, nonantibiotic therapies are required for the treatment of infection. This is particularly true for the treatment of Pseudomonas infection in patients with cystic fibrosis. We have identified two bacterial viruses (bacteriophages) that can kill Pseudomonas growing on human lung cells and in an animal model of lung infection. The use of bacteriophages is particularly appropriate because the killing agent can replicate on the target cell, generating fresh copies of the bacteriophage. Thus, in the presence of a target, the killing agent multiplies. By using two bacteriophages we can reduce the risk of resistant colonies developing at the site of infection. Bacteriophage therapy is an exciting field, and this study represents an important demonstration of efficacy in validated infection models.
PMCID: PMC3302570  PMID: 22396480
18.  Shining a Light on Intestinal Traffic 
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), encompassing Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, is associated with enhanced leukocyte infiltration to the gut, which is directly linked to the clinical aspects of these disorders. Thus, leukocyte trafficking is a major target for IBD therapy. Past and emerging techniques to study leukocyte trafficking both in vitro and in vivo have expanded our knowledge of the leukocyte migration process and the role of inhibitors. Various strategies have been employed to target chemokine- and integrin-ligand interactions within the multistep adhesion cascade and the S1P/S1PR1 axis in leukocyte migration. Though there is an abundance of preclinical data demonstrating efficacy of leukocyte trafficking inhibitors, many have yet to be confirmed in clinical studies. Vigilance for toxicity and further research is required into this complex and emerging area of IBD therapy.
PMCID: PMC3227234  PMID: 22162719
19.  Bifidobacterium animalis AHC7 protects against pathogen-induced NF-κB activation in vivo  
BMC Immunology  2010;11:63.
Bifidobacteria and lactobacilli are among the early and important colonizers of the gastrointestinal tract and are generally considered to be part of a normal, healthy microbiota. It is believed that specific strains within the microbiota can influence host immune-reactivity and may play a role in protection from infection and aberrant inflammatory activity. One such strain, Bifidobacterium animalis AHC7, has been previously shown to protect against Salmonella typhimurium infection in mice and helps resolve acute idiopathic diarrhea in dogs. The aim of this study was to investigate the potential molecular and cellular mechanisms underpinning the Bifidobacterium animalis AHC7 protective effect.
Following 4 hours of infection with Salmonella typhimurium, NF-κB activation was significantly elevated in vivo in placebo and Enterococcus faecium-fed animals while Bifidobacterium animalis AHC7 consumption significantly attenuated the NF-κB response. In vitro anti-CD3/CD28 stimulated Peyer's patch cells secreted significantly less TNF-α and IFN-γ following Bifidobacterium animalis AHC7 consumption. Stimulated cells released more IL-12p70 but this difference did not reach statistical significance. No alteration in mucosal IL-6, IL-10 or MCP-1 levels were observed. No statistically significant change in the cytokine profile of mesenteric lymph node cells was noted. In vitro, Bifidobacterium animalis AHC7 was bound by dendritic cells and induced secretion of both IL-10 and IL-12p70. In addition, co-culture of CD4+ T cells with Bifidobacterium animalis AHC7-stimulated dendritic cells resulted in a significant increase in CD25+Foxp3+ T cell numbers.
Bifidobacterium animalis AHC7 exerts an anti-inflammatory effect via the attenuation of pro-inflammatory transcription factor activation in response to an infectious insult associated with modulation of pro-inflammatory cytokine production within the mucosa. The cellular mechanism underpinning Bifidobacterium animalis AHC7 mediated attenuation of NF-κB activation may include recognition of the bacterium by dendritic cells and induction of CD25+Foxp3+ T cells.
PMCID: PMC3016395  PMID: 21176205
20.  Probiotic Colonization of the Adherent Mucus Layer of HT29MTXE12 Cells Attenuates Campylobacter jejuni Virulence Properties▿  
Infection and Immunity  2010;78(6):2812-2822.
The HT29MTXE12 (E12) cell line harbors an adherent mucus layer, providing a novel technique to model mucosal infection in vitro. In this study, we have characterized the interaction of Campylobacter jejuni with the E12 cell line and exploited its unique mucus layer to examine the potential efficacy of probiotic treatment to attenuate C. jejuni virulence properties. C. jejuni 81-176 colonized and reproduced in E12 mucus. Adhesion to and internalization of C. jejuni were enhanced in E12 cells harboring mucus compared to parental cells without mucus. Translocation of C. jejuni occurred at early time points following infection. C. jejuni aligned with tight junctions and colocalized with the tight junction protein occludin, suggesting a paracellular route of translocation. Probiotic strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus R0011, Lactobacillus helveticus R0052, Lactobacillus salivarius AH102, Bifidobacterium longum AH1205, a commercial combination of L. rhamnosus R0011 and L. helveticus R0052 (Lacidofil), and a cocktail consisting of L. rhamnosus, L. helveticus, and L. salivarius (RhHeSa) colonized E12 mucus and bound to underlying cells. Probiotics attenuated C. jejuni association with and internalization into E12 cells and translocation to the basolateral medium of transwells. Live bacteria and prolonged precolonization of E12 cells with probiotics were necessary for probiotic action. These results demonstrate the potential for E12 cells as a model of mucosal pathogenesis and provide a rationale for the further investigation of probiotics as prophylaxis against human campylobacteriosis.
PMCID: PMC2876579  PMID: 20308300
21.  Esophageal intramural pseudodiverticulosis characterized by barium esophagography: a case report 
Esophageal intramural pseudodiverticulosis is a rare condition characterized by the dilatation of the submucosal glands.
Case presentation
We present a case of esophageal intramural pseudodiverticulosis in a 72-year-old Caucasian man who presented with dysphagia and with a background history of alcohol abuse. An upper gastrointestinal endoscopy of our patient showed an esophageal stricture with abnormal mucosal appearances, but no malignant cells were seen at biopsy. Appearances on a barium esophagram were pathognomonic for esophageal intramural pseudodiverticulosis.
We demonstrate the enduring usefulness of barium esophagography in the characterization of abnormal mucosal appearances at endoscopy.
PMCID: PMC2890018  PMID: 20492693
22.  Modulation of pathogen-induced CCL20 secretion from HT-29 human intestinal epithelial cells by commensal bacteria 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:54.
Human intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) secrete the chemokine CCL20 in response to infection by various enteropathogenic bacteria or exposure to bacterial flagellin. CCL20 recruits immature dendritic cells and lymphocytes to target sites. Here we investigated IEC responses to various pathogenic and commensal bacteria as well as the modulatory effects of commensal bacteria on pathogen-induced CCL20 secretion. HT-29 human IECs were incubated with commensal bacteria (Bifidobacterium infantis or Lactobacillus salivarius), or with Salmonella typhimurium, its flagellin, Clostridium difficile, Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, or Mycobacterium smegmatis for varying times. In some studies, HT-29 cells were pre-treated with a commensal strain for 2 hr prior to infection or flagellin stimulation. CCL20 and interleukin (IL)-8 secretion and nuclear factor (NF)-κB activation were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays.
Compared to untreated cells, S. typhimurium, C. difficile, M. paratuberculosis, and flagellin activated NF-κB and stimulated significant secretion of CCL20 and IL-8 by HT-29 cells. Conversely, B. infantis, L. salivarius or M. smegmatis did not activate NF-κB or augment CCL20 or IL-8 production. Treatment with B. infantis, but not L. salivarius, dose-dependently inhibited the baseline secretion of CCL20. In cells pre-treated with B. infantis, C. difficile-, S. typhimurium-, and flagellin-induced CCL20 were significantly attenuated. B. infantis did not limit M. Paratuberculosis-induced CCL20 secretion.
This study is the first to demonstrate that a commensal strain can attenuate CCL20 secretion in HT-29 IECs. Collectively, the data indicate that M. paratuberculosis may mediate mucosal damage and that B. infantis can exert immunomodulatory effects on IECs that mediate host responses to flagellin and flagellated enteric pathogens.
PMCID: PMC2763856  PMID: 19814810
23.  Exploring the Diversity of the Bifidobacterial Population in the Human Intestinal Tract▿  
Although the health-promoting roles of bifidobacteria are widely accepted, the diversity of bifidobacteria among the human intestinal microbiota is still poorly understood. We performed a census of bifidobacterial populations from human intestinal mucosal and fecal samples by plating them on selective medium, coupled with molecular analysis of selected rRNA gene sequences (16S rRNA gene and internally transcribed spacer [ITS] 16S-23S spacer sequences) of isolated colonies. A total of 900 isolates were collected, of which 704 were shown to belong to bifidobacteria. Analyses showed that the culturable bifidobacterial population from intestinal and fecal samples include six main phylogenetic taxa, i.e., Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium pseudocatenulatum, Bifidobacterium adolescentis, Bifidobacterium pseudolongum, Bifidobacterium breve, and Bifidobacterium bifidum, and two species mostly detected in fecal samples, i.e., Bifidobacterium dentium and Bifidobacterium animalis subp. lactis. Analysis of bifidobacterial distribution based on age of the subject revealed that certain identified bifidobacterial species were exclusively present in the adult human gut microbiota whereas others were found to be widely distributed. We encountered significant intersubject variability and composition differences between fecal and mucosa-adherent bifidobacterial communities. In contrast, a modest diversification of bifidobacterial populations was noticed between different intestinal regions within the same individual (intrasubject variability). Notably, a small number of bifidobacterial isolates were shown to display a wide ecological distribution, thus suggesting that they possess a broad colonization capacity.
PMCID: PMC2655441  PMID: 19168652
24.  Commensal-Induced Regulatory T Cells Mediate Protection against Pathogen-Stimulated NF-κB Activation 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(8):e1000112.
Host defence against infection requires a range of innate and adaptive immune responses that may lead to tissue damage. Such immune-mediated pathologies can be controlled with appropriate T regulatory (Treg) activity. The aim of the present study was to determine the influence of gut microbiota composition on Treg cellular activity and NF-κB activation associated with infection. Mice consumed the commensal microbe Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 followed by infection with Salmonella typhimurium or injection with LPS. In vivo NF-κB activation was quantified using biophotonic imaging. CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ T cell phenotypes and cytokine levels were assessed using flow cytometry while CD4+ T cells were isolated using magnetic beads for adoptive transfer to naïve animals. In vivo imaging revealed profound inhibition of infection and LPS induced NF-κB activity that preceded a reduction in S. typhimurium numbers and murine sickness behaviour scores in B. infantis–fed mice. In addition, pro-inflammatory cytokine secretion, T cell proliferation, and dendritic cell co-stimulatory molecule expression were significantly reduced. In contrast, CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ T cell numbers were significantly increased in the mucosa and spleen of mice fed B. infantis. Adoptive transfer of CD4+CD25+ T cells transferred the NF-κB inhibitory activity. Consumption of a single commensal micro-organism drives the generation and function of Treg cells which control excessive NF-κB activation in vivo. These cellular interactions provide the basis for a more complete understanding of the commensal-host-pathogen trilogue that contribute to host homeostatic mechanisms underpinning protection against aberrant activation of the innate immune system in response to a translocating pathogen or systemic LPS.
Author Summary
The normal response to infection is rapid and effective clearance of pathogenic microbes. However, this immune response may occasionally cause collateral inflammatory damage to host tissue and in severe cases, such as systemic sepsis, results in organ failure. Various cellular mechanisms, including regulatory T cells, protect against aggressive immune responses. However, environmental agents which promote regulatory T cells are not well understood. We and others have previously shown that non-pathogenic or commensal micro-organisms can protect the host from aberrant pro-inflammatory activity within the gut, but the influence of these microbes on regulatory T cells in the context of systemic infection has not been examined. In this study, we demonstrate that consumption of a single commensal bacterium induces regulatory T cells in vivo which protect the host from pathogen-induced inflammatory responses by limiting activation of the pro-inflammatory transcription factor NF-κB via the toll-like receptor 4 (TLR-4) pathway. This report conclusively demonstrates a cellular and molecular basis for the commensal-host-pathogen trilogue resulting in enhanced protection from systemic infection whilst limiting pro-inflammatory damage mediated by activation of the innate immune system.
PMCID: PMC2474968  PMID: 18670628
25.  Human methanogen diversity and incidence in healthy and diseased colonic groups using mcrA gene analysis 
BMC Microbiology  2008;8:79.
The incidence and diversity of human methanogens are insufficiently characterised in the gastrointestinal tract of both health and disease. A PCR and clone library methodology targeting the mcrA gene was adopted to facilitate the two-fold aim of surveying the relative incidence of methanogens in health and disease groups and also to provide an overview of methanogen diversity in the human gastrointestinal tract.
DNA faecal extracts (207 in total) from a group of healthy controls and five gastrointestinal disease groups were investigated. Colorectal cancer, polypectomised, irritable bowel syndrome and the control group had largely equivalent numbers of individuals positive for methanogens (range 45–50%). Methanogen incidence in the inflammatory bowel disease groups was reduced, 24% for ulcerative colitis and 30% for Crohn's disease. Four unique mcrA gene restriction fragment length polymorphism profiles were identified and bioinformatic analyses revealed that the majority of all sequences (94%) retrieved from libraries were 100% identical to Methanobrevibacter smithii mcrA gene. In addition, mcrA gene sequences most closely related to Methanobrevibacter oralis and members of the order Methanosarcinales were also recovered.
The mcrA gene serves as a useful biomarker for methanogen detection in the human gut and the varying trends of methanogen incidence in the human gut could serve as important indicators of intestinal function. Although Methanobrevibacter smithii is the dominant methanogen in both the distal colon of individuals in health and disease, the diversity of methanogens is greater than previously reported. In conclusion, the low incidence of methanogens in Inflammatory Bowel Disease, the functionality of the methanogens and impact of methane production in addition to competitive interactions between methanogens and other microbial groups in the human gastrointestinal tract warrants further investigation.
PMCID: PMC2408590  PMID: 18492229

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