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1.  Gastric De Novo Muc13 Expression and Spasmolytic Polypeptide-Expressing Metaplasia during Helicobacter heilmannii Infection 
Infection and Immunity  2014;82(8):3227-3239.
Helicobacter heilmannii is a zoonotic bacterium that has been associated with gastric disease in humans. In this study, the mRNA expression of mucins in the stomach of BALB/c mice was analyzed at several time points during a 1-year infection with this bacterium, during which gastric disease progressed in severity. Markers for acid production by parietal cells and mucous metaplasia were also examined. In the first 9 weeks postinfection, the mRNA expression of Muc6 was clearly upregulated in both the antrum and fundus of the stomach of H. heilmannii-infected mice. Interestingly, Muc13 was upregulated already at 1 day postinfection in the fundus of the stomach. Its expression level remained high in the stomach over the course of the infection. This mucin is, however, not expressed in a healthy stomach, and high expression of this mucin has so far only been described in gastric cancer. In the later stages of infection, mRNA expression of H+/K+-ATPase α/β and KCNQ1 decreased, whereas the expression of Muc4, Tff2, Dmbt1, and polymeric immunoglobulin receptor (pIgR) increased starting at 16 weeks postinfection onwards, suggesting the existence of spasmolytic polypeptide-expressing metaplasia in the fundus of the stomach. Mucous metaplasia present in the mucosa surrounding low-grade mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma-like lesions was also histologically confirmed. Our findings indicate that H. heilmannii infection causes severe gastric pathologies and alterations in the expression pattern of gastric mucins, such as Muc6 and Muc13, as well as disrupting gastric homeostasis by inducing the loss of parietal cells, resulting in the development of mucous metaplasia.
PMCID: PMC4136228  PMID: 24866791
2.  Autovaccination Confers Protection against Devriesea agamarum Associated Septicemia but Not Dermatitis in Bearded Dragons (Pogona vitticeps) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e113084.
Devrieseasis caused by Devriesea agamarum is a highly prevalent disease in captive desert lizards, resulting in severe dermatitis and in some cases mass mortality. In this study, we assessed the contribution of autovaccination to devrieseasis control by evaluating the capacity of 5 different formalin-inactivated D. agamarum vaccines to induce a humoral immune response in bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps). Each vaccine contained one of the following adjuvants: CpG, incomplete Freund's, Ribi, aluminium hydroxide, or curdlan. Lizards were administrated one of the vaccines through subcutaneous injection and booster vaccination was given 3 weeks after primo-vaccination. An indirect ELISA was developed and used to monitor lizard serological responses. Localized adverse effects following subcutaneous immunization were observed in all but the Ribi adjuvanted vaccine group. Following homologous experimental challenge, the incomplete Freund's as well as the Ribi vaccine were observed to confer protection in bearded dragons against the development of D. agamarum associated septicemia but not against dermatitis. Subsequently, two-dimensional gelelectrophoresis followed by immunoblotting and mass spectrometry was conducted with serum obtained from 3 lizards that showed seroconversion after immunisation with the Ribi vaccine. Fructose-bisphosphate aldolase and aldo-keto reductase of D. agamarum reacted with serum from the latter lizards. Based on the demonstrated seroconversion and partial protection against D. agamarum associated disease following the use of formalin-inactivated vaccines as well as the identification of target antigens in Ribi vaccinated bearded dragons, this study provides promising information towards the development of a vaccination strategy to control devrieseasis in captive lizard collections.
PMCID: PMC4257540  PMID: 25479609
3.  The Mycotoxin Deoxynivalenol Predisposes for the Development of Clostridium perfringens-Induced Necrotic Enteritis in Broiler Chickens 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e108775.
Both mycotoxin contamination of feed and Clostridium perfringens-induced necrotic enteritis have an increasing global economic impact on poultry production. Especially the Fusarium mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON) is a common feed contaminant. This study aimed at examining the predisposing effect of DON on the development of necrotic enteritis in broiler chickens. An experimental Clostridium perfringens infection study revealed that DON, at a contamination level of 3,000 to 4,000 µg/kg feed, increased the percentage of birds with subclinical necrotic enteritis from 20±2.6% to 47±3.0% (P<0.001). DON significantly reduced the transepithelial electrical resistance in duodenal segments (P<0.001) and decreased duodenal villus height (P = 0.014) indicating intestinal barrier disruption and intestinal epithelial damage, respectively. This may lead to an increased permeability of the intestinal epithelium and decreased absorption of dietary proteins. Protein analysis of duodenal content indeed showed that DON contamination resulted in a significant increase in total protein concentration (P = 0.023). Furthermore, DON had no effect on in vitro growth, alpha toxin production and netB toxin transcription of Clostridium perfringens. In conclusion, feed contamination with DON at concentrations below the European maximum guidance level of 5,000 µg/kg feed, is a predisposing factor for the development of necrotic enteritis in broilers. These results are associated with a negative effect of DON on the intestinal barrier function and increased intestinal protein availability, which may stimulate growth and toxin production of Clostridium perfringens.
PMCID: PMC4182565  PMID: 25268498
4.  Genetic diversity of livestock-associated MRSA isolates obtained from piglets from farrowing until slaughter age on four farrow-to-finish farms 
Veterinary Research  2014;45(1):89.
During a previous longitudinal study, performed on four farrow-to-finish farms (A to D), samples were taken from twelve sows, their offspring, and the environment on various occasions over six months to study the MRSA presence. During the present study, a selection of the obtained MRSA isolates were typed by multiple-locus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA), Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE), spa typing, and SCCmec typing to study the genetic diversity of LA-MRSA isolates and to determine possible MRSA sources for pig(let)s. PFGE, spa typing, and SCCmec typing revealed the presence of one or few dominant genotype(s) per farm. In contrast, 212 MLVA types were detected on the four farms, forming one cluster on farm A, three on farm B, four on farm C and two on farm D. The genotype, found on farm A was unique for this farm. Farms B, C and D shared one cluster. In general, MLVA types from these clusters were isolated from piglets, sows, and the environment on various sampling events. Piglets carried MLVA types both related and unrelated to their mother sows’ MLVA types at farrowing and onwards. In conclusion, molecular typing revealed that within a farm one or a few dominant strain(s) are widespread. Potential MRSA sources for piglets were mother sows, the environment and other piglets.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13567-014-0089-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4189174  PMID: 25217275
LA-MRSA; Molecular typing; Epidemiology; Pigs; Genetic diversity
5.  Epidemiology and molecular characterization of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus nasal carriage isolates from bovines 
BMC Veterinary Research  2014;10:153.
Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacterium usually found on skin and mucous membranes of warm blooded animals. Resistance in S. aureus has been increasingly reported though depending on the clonal lineage. Indeed, while hospital acquired (HA)-methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA) are typically multi-resistant, community associated (CA)-MRSA are by large more susceptible to many antibiotics. Although S. aureus isolated from animals are often susceptible to most antibiotics, multi-resistant livestock associated (LA)-MRSA have been recovered from bovine mastitis.
In this study, we investigated the prevalence and types of MRSA present in the nose of healthy bovines of different age groups and rearing practices. Since no validated methods for MRSA isolation from nasal swabs were available, we compared two isolation methods. Molecular characterization was performed by means of spa-typing, MLST, SCCmec typing and microarray analysis for the detection of antimicrobial resistance and virulence genes.
MRSA between herd prevalence in bovines was estimated at 19.8%. There was a marked difference between rearing practices with 9.9%, 10.2% and 46.1% of the dairy, beef and veal calve farms respectively being MRSA positive. No significant difference was observed between both isolation methods tested. Most isolates were ST398 spa type t011 or closely related spa types. Few ST239 spa type t037 and t388 and ST8 spa type t121 were also found. SCCmec types carried by these strains were mainly type IV(2B), IV(2B&5) and type V. Type III and non-typeable SCCmec were recovered to a lesser extent. All isolates were multi-resistant to at least two antimicrobials in addition to the expected cefoxitin and penicillin resistance, with an average of resistance to 9.5 different antimicrobials. Isolates selected for microarray analysis carried a broad range of antimicrobial resistance and virulence genes.
MRSA were mainly present in veal farms, compared to the lower prevalence in dairy or beef farms. Multi-resistance in these strains was high. Though mainly CC398 spa t011 was found, the genetic diversity was higher than what was found for pigs in Belgium. CC8 strains, a typically human lineage but also recently found also in association with bovines, has been retrieved here also.
PMCID: PMC4103977  PMID: 25011427
Nasal carriage; Bovine; Epidemiology; Molecular characterization; Antimicrobial resistance
6.  Phenotypes and Genotypes of Old and Contemporary Porcine Strains Indicate a Temporal Change in the S. aureus Population Structure in Pigs 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101988.
Staphylococcus aureus sequence type ST398 has recently gained attention due to the spread of methicillin-resistant strains among people exposed to livestock. The aim of this study was to explore temporal changes in the population structure of S. aureus in pigs over the last 40 years with particular reference to the occurrence of ST398.
We analysed a unique collection of 91 porcine strains isolated in six countries between 1973 and 2009 using a biotyping scheme described in the 1970's in combination with spa typing and multi-locus sequence typing (MLST). The collection comprised 32 historical isolates from 1973–1974 (n = 19) and from 1991–2003 (n = 13), and 59 contemporary isolates from 2004–2009. The latter isolates represented the most common MLST types (ST1, ST9, ST97 and ST433) and spa types isolated from pigs in Europe.
Results and Discussion
S. aureus sequence type ST398 was not found among old isolates from the 1970's or from 1991–2003, suggesting that this lineage was absent or present at low frequencies in pigs in the past. This hypothesis is supported by the observed association of ST398 with the ovine ecovar, which was not described in pigs by studies carried out in the 1970's. In addition, various phenotypic and genotypic differences were observed between old and contemporary isolates. Some biotypes commonly reported in pigs in the 1970's were either absent (human ecovar) or rare (biotype A) among contemporary isolates. Nine clonal lineages found among old porcine isolates are occasionally reported in pigs today (ST8, ST30, ST97, ST387, ST1092, ST2468) or have never been described in this animal host (ST12, ST133, ST1343). These results indicate that the population structure of porcine S. aureus has changed over the last 40 years and confirm the current theory that S. aureus ST398 does not originate from pigs.
PMCID: PMC4084899  PMID: 25000530
7.  The Impact of Fusarium Mycotoxins on Human and Animal Host Susceptibility to Infectious Diseases 
Toxins  2014;6(2):430-452.
Contamination of food and feed with mycotoxins is a worldwide problem. At present, acute mycotoxicosis caused by high doses is rare in humans and animals. Ingestion of low to moderate amounts of Fusarium mycotoxins is common and generally does not result in obvious intoxication. However, these low amounts may impair intestinal health, immune function and/or pathogen fitness, resulting in altered host pathogen interactions and thus a different outcome of infection. This review summarizes the current state of knowledge about the impact of Fusarium mycotoxin exposure on human and animal host susceptibility to infectious diseases. On the one hand, exposure to deoxynivalenol and other Fusarium mycotoxins generally exacerbates infections with parasites, bacteria and viruses across a wide range of animal host species. Well-known examples include coccidiosis in poultry, salmonellosis in pigs and mice, colibacillosis in pigs, necrotic enteritis in poultry, enteric septicemia of catfish, swine respiratory disease, aspergillosis in poultry and rabbits, reovirus infection in mice and Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus infection in pigs. However, on the other hand, T-2 toxin has been shown to markedly decrease the colonization capacity of Salmonella in the pig intestine. Although the impact of the exposure of humans to Fusarium toxins on infectious diseases is less well known, extrapolation from animal models suggests possible exacerbation of, for instance, colibacillosis and salmonellosis in humans, as well.
PMCID: PMC3942744  PMID: 24476707
deoxynivalenol; fumonisin; Fusarium mycotoxins; human; infectious diseases; mouse; pig; poultry; T-2 toxin; zearalenone
8.  Clostridium perfringens strains from bovine enterotoxemia cases are not superior in in vitro production of alpha toxin, perfringolysin O and proteolytic enzymes 
Bovine enterotoxemia is a major cause of mortality in veal calves. Predominantly veal calves of beef cattle breeds are affected and losses due to enterotoxemia may account for up to 20% of total mortality. Clostridium perfringens type A is considered to be the causative agent. Recently, alpha toxin and perfringolysin O have been proposed to play an essential role in the development of disease. However, other potential virulence factors also may play a role in the pathogenesis of bovine enterotoxemia. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether strains originating from bovine enterotoxemia cases were superior in in vitro production of virulence factors (alpha toxin, perfringolysin O, mucinase, collagenase) that are potentially involved in enterotoxemia. To approach this, a collection of strains originating from enterotoxemia cases was compared to bovine strains isolated from healthy animals and to strains isolated from other animal species.
Strains originating from bovine enterotoxemia cases produced variable levels of alpha toxin and perfringolysin O that were not significantly different from levels produced by strains isolated from healthy calves and other animal species. All tested strains exhibited similar mucinolytic activity independent of the isolation source. A high variability in collagenase activity between strains could be observed, and no higher collagenase levels were produced in vitro by strains isolated from enterotoxemia cases.
Bovine enterotoxemia strains do not produce higher levels of alpha toxin, perfringolysin O, mucinase and collagenase, as compared to strains derived from healthy calves and other animal species in vitro.
PMCID: PMC3913962  PMID: 24479821
10.  Perfrin, a novel bacteriocin associated with netB positive Clostridium perfringens strains from broilers with necrotic enteritis 
Veterinary Research  2014;45(1):40.
Necrotic enteritis in broiler chickens is associated with netB positive Clostridium perfringens type A strains. It is known that C. perfringens strains isolated from outbreaks of necrotic enteritis are more capable of secreting factors inhibiting growth of other C. perfringens strains than strains isolated from the gut of healthy chickens. This characteristic could lead to extensive and selective presence of a strain that contains the genetic make-up enabling to secrete toxins that cause gut lesions. This report describes the discovery, purification, characterization and recombinant expression of a novel bacteriocin, referred to as perfrin, produced by a necrotic enteritis-associated netB-positive C. perfringens strain. Perfrin is a 11.5 kDa C-terminal fragment of a 22.9 kDa protein and showed no sequence homology to any currently known bacteriocin. The 11.5 kDa fragment can be cloned into Escherichia coli, and expression yielded an active peptide. PCR detection of the gene showed its presence in 10 netB-positive C. perfringens strains of broiler origin, and not in other C. perfringens strains tested (isolated from broilers, cattle, sheep, pigs, and humans). Perfrin and NetB are not located on the same genetic element since NetB is plasmid-encoded and perfrin is not. The bacteriocin has bactericidal activity over a wide pH-range but is thermolabile and sensitive to proteolytic digestion (trypsin, proteinase K). C. perfringens bacteriocins, such as perfrin, can be considered as an additional factor involved in the pathogenesis of necrotic enteritis in broilers.
PMCID: PMC3992141  PMID: 24708344
11.  Passive immunization to reduce Campylobacter jejuni colonization and transmission in broiler chickens 
Veterinary Research  2014;45(1):27.
Campylobacter jejuni is the most common cause of bacterium-mediated diarrheal disease in humans worldwide. Poultry products are considered the most important source of C. jejuni infections in humans but to date no effective strategy exists to eradicate this zoonotic pathogen from poultry production. Here, the potential use of passive immunization to reduce Campylobacter colonization in broiler chicks was examined. For this purpose, laying hens were immunized with either a whole-cell lysate or the hydrophobic protein fraction of C. jejuni and their eggs were collected. In vitro tests validated the induction of specific ImmunoglobulinY (IgY) against C. jejuni in the immunized hens’ egg yolks, in particular. In seeder experiments, preventive administration of hyperimmune egg yolk significantly (P < 0.01) reduced bacterial counts of seeder animals three days after oral inoculation with approximately 104 cfu C. jejuni, compared with control birds. Moreover, transmission to non-seeder birds was dramatically reduced (hydrophobic protein fraction) or even completely prevented (whole-cell lysate). Purified IgY promoted bacterial binding to chicken intestinal mucus, suggesting enhanced mucosal clearance in vivo. Western blot analysis in combination with mass spectrometry after two-dimensional gel-electrophoresis revealed immunodominant antigens of C. jejuni that are involved in a variety of cell functions, including chemotaxis and adhesion. Some of these (AtpA, EF-Tu, GroEL and CtpA) are highly conserved proteins and could be promising targets for the development of subunit vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3996517  PMID: 24589217
12.  Effect of a DIVA vaccine with and without in-feed use of coated calcium-butyrate on transmission of Salmonella Typhimurium in pigs 
For satisfactory Salmonella control, good biosecurity along the pork production chain is crucial, although additional control measures on-farm need to be considered. This study evaluated the effect of two potential control measures against the spread of Salmonella Typhimurium via a transmission experiment with 56 piglets (3–15 weeks of age): two groups were orally vaccinated with 107 - 108 Colony Forming Units (CFU)/2 mL of a new attenuated Salmonella Typhimurium vaccine ‘Salmoporc-∆rfaJ’ with DIVA capacities (Differentiation between Infected and Vaccinated Animals) (n = 2x16); the feed of one group was additionally supplemented with coated calcium-butyrate salt. Two weeks post vaccination, four pigs per group were orally challenged with 107 CFU/2 mL of a Salmonella Typhimurium strain 112910a. Both groups were compared with a positive (challenged/untreated; n = 16) and negative (unchallenged/untreated; n = 8) control group. Until six weeks post challenge, blood, individual faecal and finally tissue samples were examined. Adjusted transmission ratios ‘Ra’ were estimated, based on the challenge strain isolation from faecal and/or tissue samples.
In both intervention groups, Ra values were lower compared to the positive control group, although these differences were not significant. In the combination group DIVA vaccine + coated butyrate, less non-challenged contact animals excreted Salmonella and less tissue samples were found Salmonella-positive in all pigs, when compared to the positive control group (P < 0.01). Seroconversion was detected in none of the vaccinated animals before challenge, when using a commercial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) ELISA targeting only Salmonella O-antigens, deleted in this vaccine. This was in contrast with an in-house whole-cell ELISA testing for various Salmonella antigens, in which Salmonella-specific antibodies were found pre-challenge in the serum of the vaccinated pigs.
Both interventions showed a limited, non-significant reduction of Salmonella transmission between piglets. They may have applications towards Salmonella control and surveillance. Firstly, the number of Salmonella excreting contact pigs was significantly lower in the group where vaccination was combined with coated calcium-butyrate salt in the feed; secondly, the new vaccine confirmed its DIVA capacity. Therefore, these interventions merit further research with larger sample sizes, to optimize their use for Salmonella programmes.
PMCID: PMC4235050  PMID: 24304918
Salmonella Typhimurium; Pig; DIVA vaccine; Coated calcium-butyrate salt; Transmission
13.  Effects of Helicobacter suis γ- Glutamyl Transpeptidase on Lymphocytes: Modulation by Glutamine and Glutathione Supplementation and Outer Membrane Vesicles as a Putative Delivery Route of the Enzyme 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77966.
Helicobacter (H.) suis colonizes the stomach of the majority of pigs as well as a minority of humans worldwide. Infection causes chronic inflammation in the stomach of the host, however without an effective clearance of the bacteria. Currently, no information is available about possible mechanisms H. suis utilizes to interfere with the host immune response. This study describes the effect on various lymphocytes of the γ-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) from H. suis. Compared to whole cell lysate from wild-type H. suis, lysate from a H. suis ggt mutant strain showed a decrease of the capacity to inhibit Jurkat T cell proliferation. Incubation of Jurkat T cells with recombinantly expressed H. suis GGT resulted in an impaired proliferation, and cell death was shown to be involved. A similar but more pronounced inhibitory effect was also seen on primary murine CD4+ T cells, CD8+ T cells, and CD19+ B cells. Supplementation with known GGT substrates was able to modulate the observed effects. Glutamine restored normal proliferation of the cells, whereas supplementation with reduced glutathione strengthened the H. suis GGT-mediated inhibition of proliferation. H. suis GGT treatment abolished secretion of IL-4 and IL-17 by CD4+ T cells, without affecting secretion of IFN-γ. Finally, H. suis outer membrane vesicles (OMV) were identified as a possible delivery route of H. suis GGT to lymphocytes residing in the deeper mucosal layers. Thus far, this study is the first to report that the effects on lymphocytes of this enzyme, not only important for H. suis metabolism but also for that of other Helicobacter species, depend on the degradation of two specific substrates: glutamine and reduced glutatione. This will provide new insights into the pathogenic mechanisms of H. suis infection in particular and infection with gastric helicobacters in general.
PMCID: PMC3797756  PMID: 24147103
14.  Multilocus Sequence Typing of the Porcine and Human Gastric Pathogen Helicobacter suis 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(3):920-926.
Helicobacter suis is a Gram-negative bacterium colonizing the majority of pigs, in which it causes gastritis and decreased daily weight gain. H. suis is also the most prevalent gastric non-Helicobacter pylori Helicobacter species in humans, capable of causing gastric disorders. To gain insight into the genetic diversity of porcine and human H. suis strains, a multilocus sequence typing (MLST) method was developed. In a preliminary study, 7 housekeeping genes (atpA, efp, mutY, ppa, trpC, ureI, and yphC) of 10 H. suis isolates cultured in vitro were investigated as MLST candidates. All genes, except the ureI gene, which was replaced by part of the ureAB gene cluster of H. suis, displayed several variable nucleotide sites. Subsequently, internal gene fragments, ranging from 379 to 732 bp and comprising several variable nucleotide sites, were selected. For validation of the developed MLST technique, gastric tissue from 17 H. suis-positive pigs from 4 different herds and from 1 H. suis-infected human patient was used for direct, culture-independent strain typing of H. suis. In addition to the 10 unique sequence types (STs) among the 10 isolates grown in vitro, 15 additional STs could be assigned. Individual animals were colonized by only 1 H. suis strain, whereas multiple H. suis strains were present in all herds tested, revealing that H. suis is a genetically diverse bacterial species. The human H. suis strain showed a very close relationship to porcine strains. In conclusion, the developed MLST scheme may prove useful for direct, culture-independent typing of porcine and human H. suis strains.
PMCID: PMC3592083  PMID: 23303499
15.  Fluorescence in situ Hybridization method using Peptide Nucleic Acid probes for rapid detection of Lactobacillus and Gardnerella spp. 
BMC Microbiology  2013;13:82.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common vaginal infection occurring in women of reproductive age. It is widely accepted that the microbial switch from normal microflora to BV is characterized by a decrease in vaginal colonization by Lactobacillus species together with an increase of Gardnerella vaginalis and other anaerobes. Our goal was to develop and optimize a novel Peptide Nucleic Acid (PNA) Fluorescence in situ Hybridization assay (PNA FISH) for the detection of Lactobacillus spp. and G. vaginalis in mixed samples.
Therefore, we evaluated and validated two specific PNA probes by using 36 representative Lactobacillus strains, 22 representative G. vaginalis strains and 27 other taxonomically related or pathogenic bacterial strains commonly found in vaginal samples. The probes were also tested at different concentrations of G. vaginalis and Lactobacillus species in vitro, in the presence of a HeLa cell line. Specificity and sensitivity of the PNA probes were found to be 98.0% (95% confidence interval (CI), from 87.8 to 99.9%) and 100% (95% CI, from 88.0 to 100.0%), for Lactobacillus spp.; and 100% (95% CI, from 92.8 to 100%) and 100% (95% CI, from 81.5 to 100.0%) for G. vaginalis. Moreover, the probes were evaluated in mixed samples mimicking women with BV or normal vaginal microflora, demonstrating efficiency and applicability of our PNA FISH.
This quick method accurately detects Lactobacillus spp. and G. vaginalis species in mixed samples, thus enabling efficient evaluation of the two bacterial groups, most frequently encountered in the vagina.
PMCID: PMC3637831  PMID: 23586331
Fluorescence in situ Hybridization (FISH); Peptide Nucleic Acid Probe (PNA probe); Lactobacillus spp.; Gardnerella vaginalis; Bacterial vaginosis
16.  Transmission Dynamics of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in Pigs 
From the mid-2000s on, numerous studies have shown that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), renowned as human pathogen, has a reservoir in pigs and other livestock. In Europe and North America, clonal complex (CC) 398 appears to be the predominant lineage involved. Especially worrisome is its capacity to contaminate humans in close contact with affected animals. Indeed, the typical multi-resistant phenotype of MRSA CC398 and its observed ability of easily acquiring genetic material suggests that MRSA CC398 strains with an increased virulence potential may emerge, for which few therapeutic options would remain. This questions the need to implement interventions to control the presence and spread of MRSA CC398 among pigs. MRSA CC398 shows a high but not fully understood transmission potential in the pig population and is able to persist within that population. Although direct contact is probably the main route for MRSA transmission between pigs, also environmental contamination, the presence of other livestock, the herd size, and farm management are factors that may be involved in the dissemination of MRSA CC398. The current review aims at summarizing the research that has so far been done on the transmission dynamics and risk factors for introduction and persistence of MRSA CC398 in farms.
PMCID: PMC3602589  PMID: 23518663
MRSA; ST398; pigs; transmission risk factors; transmission routes; transmission pig models
17.  Genome Sequence of Helicobacter heilmannii Sensu Stricto ASB1 Isolated from the Gastric Mucosa of a Kitten with Severe Gastritis 
Genome Announcements  2013;1(1):e00033-12.
Here we report the genome sequence of Helicobacter heilmannii sensu stricto ASB1 isolated from the gastric mucosa of a kitten with severe gastritis. Helicobacter heilmannii sensu stricto has also been associated with gastric disease in humans. Availability of this genome sequence will contribute to the identification of genes involved in the pathogen’s virulence and carcinogenic properties.
PMCID: PMC3569310  PMID: 23405321
18.  Serological profiles in nursery piglets colonized with Staphylococcus aureus 
Veterinary Research  2013;44(1):4.
At present, the immune response of pigs in relation to Staphylococcus aureus carriage is poorly understood. This study was aimed at investigating the dynamics of the anti-staphylococcal humoral immune response in methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA)-positive piglets and at assessing the effect of the experimental introduction of a methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) Sequence Type (ST) 398 strain. Therefore, serum samples were collected at different times from 31 weaned piglets originating from four different sows. Twenty-four out of the 31 piglets were challenged with MRSA ST398. The serum samples were analyzed for IgG antibodies to 39 S. aureus antigens, using a multiplex bead-based assay (xMAP technology, Luminex Corporation). Though antibody responses showed broad inter-individual variability, serological results appeared to be clustered by litter of origin. For most antigens, an age-related response was observed with an apparent increase in antibody titers directed against staphylococcal microbial surface components recognizing adhesive matrix molecules (MSCRAMM), which have been shown to play a role in S. aureus colonization. In most animals, antibody titers directed against staphylococcal toxins or immune-modulating proteins decreased with age, possibly reflecting the absence of bacterial invasion. The introduction of MRSA ST398 did not elicit a significant humoral immune reaction.
This study describes, for the first time, the humoral immune response in weaned pigs colonized with S. aureus.
PMCID: PMC3558462  PMID: 23339425
19.  The synergistic necrohemorrhagic action of Clostridium perfringens perfringolysin and alpha toxin in the bovine intestine and against bovine endothelial cells 
Veterinary Research  2013;44(1):45.
Bovine necrohemorrhagic enteritis is a major cause of mortality in veal calves. Clostridium perfringens is considered as the causative agent, but there has been controversy on the toxins responsible for the disease. Recently, it has been demonstrated that a variety of C. perfringens type A strains can induce necrohemorrhagic lesions in a calf intestinal loop assay. These results put forward alpha toxin and perfringolysin as potential causative toxins, since both are produced by all C. perfringens type A strains. The importance of perfringolysin in the pathogenesis of bovine necrohemorrhagic enteritis has not been studied before. Therefore, the objective of the current study was to evaluate the role of perfringolysin in the development of necrohemorrhagic enteritis lesions in calves and its synergism with alpha toxin. A perfringolysin-deficient mutant, an alpha toxin-deficient mutant and a perfringolysin alpha toxin double mutant were less able to induce necrosis in a calf intestinal loop assay as compared to the wild-type strain. Only complementation with both toxins could restore the activity to that of the wild-type. In addition, perfringolysin and alpha toxin had a synergistic cytotoxic effect on bovine endothelial cells. This endothelial cell damage potentially explains why capillary hemorrhages are an initial step in the development of bovine necrohemorrhagic enteritis. Taken together, our results show that perfringolysin acts synergistically with alpha toxin in the development of necrohemorrhagic enteritis in a calf intestinal loop model and we hypothesize that both toxins act by targeting the endothelial cells.
PMCID: PMC3722007  PMID: 23782465
20.  Diversity in bacterium-host interactions within the species Helicobacter heilmannii sensu stricto 
Veterinary Research  2013;44(1):65.
Helicobacter (H.) heilmannii sensu stricto (s.s.) is a zoonotic bacterium that naturally colonizes the stomach of dogs and cats. In humans, this microorganism has been associated with gastritis, peptic ulcer disease and mucosa associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma. Little information is available about the pathogenesis of H. heilmannii s.s. infections in humans and it is unknown whether differences in virulence exist within this species. Therefore, a Mongolian gerbil model was used to study bacterium-host interactions of 9 H. heilmannii s.s. strains. The colonization ability of the strains, the intensity of gastritis and gene expression of various inflammatory cytokines in the stomach were determined at 9 weeks after experimental infection. The induction of an antrum-dominant chronic active gastritis with formation of lymphocytic aggregates was shown for 7 strains. High-level antral colonization was seen for 4 strains, while colonization of 4 other strains was more restricted and one strain was not detected in the stomach at 9 weeks post infection. All strains inducing a chronic active gastritis caused an up-regulation of the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-1β in the antrum. A reduced antral expression of H+/K+ ATPase was seen in the stomach after infection with 3 highly colonizing strains and 2 highly colonizing strains caused an increased gastrin expression in the fundus. In none of the H. heilmannii s.s.-infected groups, IFN-γ expression was up-regulated. This study demonstrates diversity in bacterium-host interactions within the species H. heilmannii s.s. and that the pathogenesis of gastric infections with this microorganism is not identical to that of an H. pylori infection.
PMCID: PMC3750284  PMID: 23895283
21.  Porcine intestinal epithelial barrier disruption by the Fusarium mycotoxins deoxynivalenol and T-2 toxin promotes transepithelial passage of doxycycline and paromomycin 
The gastrointestinal tract is the first target for the potentially harmful effects of mycotoxins after intake of mycotoxin contaminated food or feed. With deoxynivalenol (DON), T-2 toxin (T-2), fumonisin B1 (FB1) and zearalenone (ZEA) being important Fusarium toxins in the northern hemisphere, this study aimed to investigate in vitro the toxic effect of these mycotoxins on intestinal porcine epithelial cells derived from the jejunum (IPEC-J2 cells). Viability of IPEC-J2 cells as well as the proportion of apoptotic and necrotic IPEC-J2 cells was determined by flow cytometry after 72 h of exposure to the toxins. Correlatively, the integrity of the intestinal epithelial cell monolayer was studied using Transwell® inserts, in which the trans-epithelial electrical resistance (TEER) and passage of the antibiotics doxycycline and paromomycin were used as endpoints.
We demonstrated that the percentage of Annexin-V-FITC and PI negative (viable) cells, Annexin-V-FITC positive and PI negative (apoptotic) cells and Annexin-V-FITC and PI positive (necrotic) IPEC-J2 cells showed a mycotoxin concentration-dependent relationship with T-2 toxin being the most toxic. Moreover, the ratio between Annexin-V-FITC positive and PI negative cells and Annexin-V-FITC and PI positive cells varied depending on the type of toxin. More Annexin-V-FITC and PI positive cells could be found after treatment with T-2 toxin, while more Annexin-V-FITC positive and PI negative cells were found after exposure to DON. Consistent with the cytotoxicity results, both DON and T-2 decreased TEER and increased cellular permeability to doxycycline and paromomycin in a time- and concentration-dependent manner.
It was concluded that Fusarium mycotoxins may severely disturb the intestinal epithelial barrier and promote passage of antibiotics.
PMCID: PMC3548726  PMID: 23244712
Mycotoxins; Cytotoxicity; Flow cytometry; Permeability; Intestinal cells
22.  The Importance of Sample Size in the Determination of a Flock-Level Antimicrobial Resistance Profile for Escherichia coli in Broilers 
Microbial Drug Resistance  2011;17(4):513-519.
Determining herd- or flock-specific antimicrobial resistance profiles is important to guide therapeutic use of antimicrobials and to assess risk factors for the development and spread of antimicrobial resistance. As such, it is of utmost importance to optimize the sampling strategy for the determination of herd-specific antimicrobial resistance profiles. However, the multitude of prevalences measured at the same time as well as the presence of variation both at the level of the animal and the bacterial population of concern make it impossible to use conventional sample size determination methods. In this article, the use of bootstrapping techniques for sample size determination was explored. In particular, one-stage and two-stage bootstrap samplings were used to determine the optimal number of animals and the optimal number of isolates within one animal. Results show that focus should be on the number of animals sampled rather than on the number of isolates tested within one animal.
PMCID: PMC3223426  PMID: 21875337
23.  Low MRSA prevalence in horses at farm level 
In Europe, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) belonging to the clonal complex (CC) 398 has become an important pathogen in horses, circulating in equine clinics and causing both colonization and infection. Whether equine MRSA is bound to hospitals or can also circulate in the general horse population is currently unknown. This study, therefore, reports the nasal and perianal MRSA screening of 189 horses on 10 farms in a suspected high prevalence region (East- and West-Flanders, Belgium).
Only one horse (0.53%) from one farm (10%) tested positive in the nose. It carried a spa type t011-SCCmecV isolate, resistant to β-lactams and tetracycline, which is typical for livestock-associated MRSA CC398.
In the region tested here, horses on horse farms seem unlikely to substantially contribute to the large animal associated ST398 MRSA reservoir present at intensive animal production units.
PMCID: PMC3536571  PMID: 23134703
Horse; Staphylococcus aureus; MRSA; Methicillin resistance; Horse farm
24.  Antibacterial therapeutics for the treatment of chytrid infection in amphibians: Columbus’s egg? 
The establishment of safe and effective protocols to treat chytridiomycosis in amphibians is urgently required. In this study, the usefulness of antibacterial agents to clear chytridiomycosis from infected amphibians was evaluated.
Florfenicol, sulfamethoxazole, sulfadiazine and the combination of trimethoprim and sulfonamides were active in vitro against cultures of five Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis strains containing sporangia and zoospores, with minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) of 0.5-1.0 μg/ml for florfenicol and 8.0 μg/ml for the sulfonamides. Trimethoprim was not capable of inhibiting growth but, combined with sulfonamides, reduced the time to visible growth inhibition by the sulfonamides. Growth inhibition of B. dendrobatidis was not observed after exposure to clindamycin, doxycycline, enrofloxacin, paromomycin, polymyxin E and tylosin. Cultures of sporangia and zoospores of B. dendrobatidis strains JEL423 and IA042 were killed completely after 14 days of exposure to 100 μg/ml florfenicol or 16 μg/ml trimethoprim combined with 80 μg/ml sulfadiazine. These concentrations were, however, not capable of efficiently killing zoospores within 4 days after exposure as assessed using flow cytometry. Florfenicol concentrations remained stable in a bathing solution during a ten day period. Exposure of Discoglossus scovazzi tadpoles for ten days to 100 μg/ml but not to 10 μg florfenicol /ml water resulted in toxicity. In an in vivo trial, post metamorphic Alytes muletensis, experimentally inoculated with B. dendrobatidis, were treated topically with a solution containing 10 μg/ml of florfenicol during 14 days. Although a significant reduction of the B. dendrobatidis load was obtained, none of the treated animals cleared the infection.
We thus conclude that, despite marked anti B. dendrobatidis activity in vitro, the florfenicol treatment used is not capable of eliminating B. dendrobatidis infections from amphibians.
PMCID: PMC3488559  PMID: 23009707
25.  Colonization and Transmission of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus ST398 in Nursery Piglets 
A transmission experiment was performed to evaluate the spread of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) ST398 in nursery piglets. Reproduction ratios (R0) in three experimental groups were found to vary between 3.92 and 52.54, indicating that after introduction, MRSA ST398 will spread easily among weaned piglets, with a tendency to become established.
PMCID: PMC3294494  PMID: 22194292

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