What impact do microbiome metabolites have on EHEC infections?

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Using organs-on-a-chip, researchers have discovered that human microbiome metabolites could enhance colon injury by enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) in humans.

Species-specific differences in tolerance can be observed in EHEC, where mice only develop disease symptoms under germ-free conditions and require higher numbers of pathogenic EHEC for infection when compared with humans. This disparity can cause issues in modelling infectious diseases in animals, leading to failures in drugs developed using this method.

In this study, published in Microbiome, the team hoped to understand the causes of species-specific tolerance to infection. By modelling infection in vitro on a microfluidic organ-on-a-chip device, the researchers were able to identify key differences in the metabolites produced by human commensal bacteria versus the mouse microbiome.

Donald Ingber (Wyss Institute, MA, USA) commented: “We were motivated by the observation that there are often enormous differences in sensitivity between human and mouse intestine when challenged with same pathogen, and past work that has shown that some of these differences in tolerance to infection can be explained by differences in the gut microbiome between these species.”

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