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The immunopathological impact of human Arcobacter (A.) infections is under current debate. Episodes of gastroenteritis with abdominal pain and acute or prolonged watery diarrhea were reported for A. butzleri infected patients. Whereas adhesive, invasive and cytotoxic capacities have been described for A. butzleri in vitro, only limited information is available about the immunopathogenic potential and mechanisms of infection in vivo.
Gnotobiotic IL-10-/- mice were generated by broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment and perorally infected with the A. butzleri strains CCUG 30485 and C1 shown to be invasive in cell culture assays. Bacterial colonization capacities, clinical conditions, intestinal, extra-intestinal and systemic immune responses were monitored at day six and 16 postinfection (p.i.). Despite stable intestinal A. butzleri colonization at high loads, gnotobiotic IL-10-/- mice were virtually unaffected and did not display any overt symptoms at either time point. Notably, A. butzleri infection induced apoptosis of colonic epithelial cells which was paralleled by increased abundance of proliferating cells. Furthermore A. butzleri infection caused a significant increase of distinct immune cell populations such as T and B cells, regulatory T cells, macrophages and monocytes in the colon which was accompanied by elevated colonic TNF, IFN-γ, nitric oxide (NO), IL-6, IL-12p70 and MCP-1 concentrations. Strikingly, A. butzleri induced extra-intestinal and systemic immune responses as indicated by higher NO concentrations in kidney and increased TNF, IFN-γ, IL-12p70 and IL-6 levels in serum samples of infected as compared to naive mice. Overall, inflammatory responses could be observed earlier in the course of infection by the CCUG 30485 as compared to the C1 strain.
Peroral A. butzleri infection induced not only intestinal but also extra-intestinal and systemic immune responses in gnotobiotic IL-10-/- mice in a strain-dependent manner. These findings point towards an immunopathogenic potential of A. butzleri in vertebrate hosts.