2019 journal article
Influence of the intestinal microbiota on disease susceptibility in kittens with experimentally-induced carriage of atypical enteropathogenic Escherichia coli
Veterinary Microbiology, 231, 197–206.
Typical enteropathogenic E. coli (tEPEC) carries the highest hazard of death in children with diarrhea and atypical EPEC (aEPEC) was recently identified as significantly associated with diarrheal mortality in kittens. In both children and kittens there is a significant association between aEPEC burden and diarrheal disease, however the infection can be found in individuals with and without diarrhea. It remains unclear to what extent, under what conditions, or by what mechanisms aEPEC serves as a primary pathogen in individuals with diarrhea. It seems likely that a combination of host and bacterial factors enable aEPEC to cause disease in some individuals and not in others. The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of aEPEC on intestinal function and diarrhea in kittens following experimentally-induced carriage and the influence of a disrupted intestinal microbiota on disease susceptibility. Results of this study identify aEPEC as a potential pathogen in kittens. In the absence of disruption to the intestinal microbiota, kittens are resistant to clinical signs of aEPEC carriage but demonstrate significant occult changes in intestinal absorption and permeability. Antibiotic-induced disruption of the intestinal microbiota prior to infection increases subsequent intestinal water loss as determined by % fecal wet weight. Enrichment of the intestinal microbiota with a commensal member of the feline mucosa-associated microbiota, Enterococcus hirae, ameliorated the effects of aEPEC experimental infection on intestinal function and water loss. These observations begin to unravel the mechanisms by which aEPEC infection may be able to exploit susceptible hosts.