Cryptosporidiosis worsened in mice on probiotics

August 31, 2018, American Society for Microbiology

In an unexpected research finding infections with the intestinal parasite, Cryptosporidium parvum, worsened in mice that had been given a probiotic. The research was published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

As compared to control mice, the probiotic-consuming mice excreted more parasites in their feces, and their intestinal microflora were different from those of the control mice. However, both sets of microflora were composed of genera that normally are present in the gut, and the mechanisms responsible for the observed probiotic effect are unclear, said corresponding author, Giovanni Widmer, Ph.D., whose graduate student, Bruno Oliveira, ran the experiments.

Contrary to expectations, "we found that consumption of a commercially available probiotic actually increased the severity of the infection," said Dr. Widmer, who is Professor of Infectious Disease & Global Health, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA.

Cryptosporidiosis is a major cause of infant diarrhea in developing nations. It killed an estimated 48,000 people worldwide in 2016, and caused the loss of more than 4.2 million disability-adjusted life-years, according to The Lancet, a medical journal. There are neither drugs to treat cryptosporidiosis, nor vaccines to prevent it. (image: high magnification micrograph of cryptosporidium infection, Wikimedia Commons)

Antibiotics, which often perturb or even deplete the normal intestinal microbiota, can thus render individuals more vulnerable to . Conversely, a healthy microbiome can prevent such infections, or reduce their severity. Reasoning along these lines, the researchers posited that a containing live microorganisms that are found in healthy intestines could reduce the severity of cryptosporidiosis in a mouse model.

"Mitigating the disease's severity may be sufficient to prevent diarrhea, or shorten its duration, and enable the immune system to naturally control the infection," said Dr. Widmer.

Despite an outcome that was contrary to the working hypothesis, the results demonstrate that it may be possible to develop probiotics to mitigate cryptosporidiosis. Prior to the experiment, "we didn't know if cryptosporidium growth in the gut could be affected by diet," said Dr. Widmer. "The goal is now to find a mechanistic link between microflora and cryptosporidium proliferation, and ultimately design a simple nutritional supplement which helps the body fight the ."

"Identifying specific mechanisms that alter pathogen virulence in response to diet may enable the development of simple pre- or probiotics capable of modifying the composition of the microbiota to reduce the severity of cryptosporidiosis," said Dr. Widmer.

Explore further: Scientists attack a potentially fatal infection that hits young children in the developing world

Related Stories

Scientists attack a potentially fatal infection that hits young children in the developing world

December 2, 2015
A gastrointestinal parasite that causes serious diarrhea and malnutrition in infants and toddlers could well meet its demise in Saul Tzipori's laboratory at Tufts University.

Scientists find new cultivation system to battle parasite causing diarrhoea

December 4, 2017
A research team at the University has established the first long-term cultivation system at a laboratory scale for the parasite Cryptosporidium, one of the world's worst and most common causes of diarrhoea and death from ...

Progress reported in global fight against diarrheal disease cryptosporidiosis

May 31, 2017
Infectious disease scientists from Novartis, the University of Georgia and Washington State University have reported the discovery and early validation of a drug candidate for treating cryptosporidiosis, a diarrheal disease ...

Promising modification of the intestinal flora in colon cancer

September 25, 2017
Living lactic acid bacteria, probiotics, can change the intestinal flora of patients with cancer of the colon. These are the findings of a study published in the journal BMJ Open Gastroenterology.

Role of oral microbiota in the severity of chemotherapy-induced oral mucositis

July 26, 2018
At the 96th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR), held in conjunction with the IADR Pan European Regional (PER) Congress, Kai Soo Tan, National University of Singapore, gave a oral presentation ...

Recommended for you

Infants born to obese mothers risk developing liver disease, obesity

November 16, 2018
Infant gut microbes altered by their mother's obesity can cause inflammation and other major changes within the baby, increasing the risk of obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease later in life, according to researchers ...

New study shows NKT cell subsets play a large role in the advancement of NAFLD

November 16, 2018
Since 2015 it has been known that the gut microbiota could have a direct impact on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which affects up to 12% of adults and is a leading cause of chronic liver disease. In the November ...

Antibiotic prescribing influenced by team dynamics within hospitals

November 15, 2018
Antibiotic prescribing by doctors is influenced by team dynamics and cultures within hospitals.

Zika may hijack mother-fetus immunity route

November 14, 2018
To cross the placenta, Zika virus may hijack the route by which acquired immunity is transferred from mother to fetus, new research suggests.

New research aims to help improve uptake of hepatitis C testing

November 14, 2018
New research published in Scientific Reports shows persisting fears about HIV infection may impact testing uptake for the hepatitis C Virus (HCV).

Maternally acquired Zika immunity can increase dengue disease severity in mouse pups

November 14, 2018
To say that the immune system is complex is an understatement: an immune response protective in one context can turn deadly over time, as evidenced by numerous epidemiological studies on dengue infection, spanning multiple ...

0 comments

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.