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Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2007 Dec;13(12):1475-83.

Enterotoxigenic bacteroides fragilis: a potential instigator of colitis.

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Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.



Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is proposed to result from a dysregulated mucosal immune response to the colonic flora in genetically susceptible individuals. Enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis (ETBF), a molecular subclass of the common human commensal, B. fragilis, has been associated with IBD. This study investigated whether ETBF colonization of mice initiated colitis or modified the clinical course of a colitis agonist, dextran sodium sulfate (DSS).


Four- and 6-week-old C57BL/6 mice were inoculated with buffer, nontoxigenic B. fragilis (NTBF) strain 9343(pFD340), or ETBF strain 86-5443-2-2 via orogastric tube. A subset of mice received 2% DSS several days pre- or post-inoculation of bacteria. Clinical status was assessed throughout the experiment and severity of colonic inflammation was scored after sacrifice.


All mice, including those receiving DSS, were clinically well prior to bacterial inoculation. NTBF and ETBF colonization was similar. Regardless of mouse age or timing of DSS administration, mice who received ETBF+DSS experienced worse colitis reflected by less weight gain, enhanced gross disease, and greater inflammation in their colons (P < 0.05), especially in the cecum. In particular, younger mice had more extensive disease. Mice inoculated only with ETBF also exhibited colitis with more severe inflammation when compared to all other groups (P < 0.05) except the ETBF+DSS group.


ETBF, a colonic commensal, alone stimulates colitis and significantly enhances colonic inflammation in DSS-treated mice. This study suggests that acquisition of ETBF colonization may be a potential factor in initiation and/or exacerbation of colitis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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