Researchers identify a potential new therapeutic target for E. coli infections

March 28, 2013
Researchers identify a potential new therapeutic target for E. coli infections
Virginia Bioinformatics Institute researchers study how various bacteria cause health problems in people and animals.

(Medical Xpress)—A new study by researchers at the Center for Modeling Immunity to Enteric Pathogens at Virginia Bioinformatics Institute provides novel insight into how an emerging strain of the diarrhea-causing bacteria E. coli interacts with its host.

The discovery about enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAEC) could be used by scientists to devise new therapeutic strategies against the disease. The study was published recently in PLOS One.

EAEC infection is the most common cause of persistent diarrhea worldwide and is most frequently seen in living in developing countries. Because these children are unable to mount an effective immune response to the bacteria, the infection often persists once it gains a foothold. A 2011 outbreak in northern Germany received international attention when it sickened more than 3,000 people, causing 53 deaths.

"In many parts of the world, the relationship between infection and malnutrition is a vicious cycle. For example, malnourished EAEC-infected individuals experience a chronic burden linked to . Our study in mice suggests that promoting inflammation may help clear the bacterial infection soon after infection," said Josep Bassaganya-Riera, a professor of immunology, director of the Nutritional Immunology and Laboratory, and the principal investigator of the center.

The MIEP team created a of the infection to investigate host–bacteria interactions. Previous studies have shown that activation of PPAR γ, a protein that aids in metabolic regulation, plays a crucial role in suppressing inflammation and regulating immune responses. When investigators blocked the function of the protein in EAEC-infected mice, they observed that the animals developed a faster and more effective defense against the disease.

"Pharmacological inhibition of PPAR γ reduced disease and bowel pathology following infection by inducing potent . Protective immune responses to EAEC are characterized by the predominance of effector T helper 17 cells that promote antimicrobial immunity and bacterial clearance," said Raquel Hontecillas, associate director of MIEP and lead investigator of the EAEC project.

Studying the bacteria and the ways in which PPAR γ can modulate immune responses in the gut may help researchers develop new to address such debilitating infections. This new work has enabled the MIEP team to test new therapies that may promote bacterial clearance. The Center for Modeling Immunity to Enteric Pathogens is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, under Contract No. HHSN272201000056C.

Explore further: Botanical compound could prove crucial to healing influenza

More information:

Related Stories

Botanical compound could prove crucial to healing influenza

July 18, 2012

Building on previous work with the botanical abscisic acida, researchers in the Nutritional Immunology and Molecular Medicine Laboratory (NIMML) have discovered that abscisic acid has anti-inflammatory effects in the lungs ...

C. diff scientists reveal potential target to fight infections

November 30, 2012

Researchers at Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech have discovered how a common diarrhea-causing bacterium sends the body's natural defenses into overdrive, actually intensifying illness while fighting infection.

Recommended for you

Researchers grow retinal nerve cells in the lab

November 30, 2015

Johns Hopkins researchers have developed a method to efficiently turn human stem cells into retinal ganglion cells, the type of nerve cells located within the retina that transmit visual signals from the eye to the brain. ...

Shining light on microbial growth and death inside our guts

November 30, 2015

For the first time, scientists can accurately measure population growth rates of the microbes that live inside mammalian gastrointestinal tracts, according to a new method reported in Nature Communications by a team at the ...

Functional human liver cells grown in the lab

November 26, 2015

In new research appearing in the prestigious journal Nature Biotechnology, an international research team led by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem describes a new technique for growing human hepatocytes in the laboratory. ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.