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Background and objectives: Acute gastroenteritis with abdominal pain and acute or prolonged watery diarrhoea has been described for humans infected with Arcobacter (A.) butzleri. Adhesive, invasive and cytotoxic capacities have been described for A.butzleri in vitro. So far, only limited information is available about the immune-pathogenic mechanisms of infection in vivo.
The aim of this study was to investigate the immune-pathological properties of A. butzleri in a well-established murine infection model.
Methods: Gnotobiotic IL-10-/- mice were orally infected with two different <i>A. butzleri<i> strains and clinical signs as well as fecal shedding were determined over time. At day 6 and day 16 post-infection apoptotic and proliferating cells, intestinal infiltration with immune cells and cytokine expression patterns were determined.
Results: Despite no overt macroscopic signs of disease, stable infection of gnotobiotic IL-10-/- mice with A. butzleri led to increased numbers of apoptotic cells, influx of immune cells and higher expression levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the intestine, depending on the respective A. butzleri strain.
Summary and conclusion: We here clearly show that A. butzleri is able to stably colonize the intestinal tract and induce apoptosis paralleled by induction of pro-inflammatory immune responses in the intestine of infected IL-10-/- gnotobiotic mice, pointing towards an immune-pathogenic potential of A. butzleri in vivo.