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J Infect Dis. 2010 Feb 1;201(3):428-34. doi: 10.1086/649799.

Piglet models of acute or chronic Clostridium difficile illness.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, North Grafton, Massachusetts, USA.


We examined the piglet model of Clostridium difficile illness (CDI) in humans, because swine are naturally susceptible to C. difficile. The piglet is a reproducible model of acute or chronic CDI with characteristic pseudomembranous colitis. Germ-free piglets were consistently and extensively colonized after oral challenge with the human strain 027/BI/NAP1, establishing an infectious dose-age relationship. This allowed a demarcation between acute fatal and chronic models. The clinical manifestations of disease inclusive of gastrointestinal and systemic symptoms and characteristic mucosal lesions of the large bowel (including pseudomembranous colitis) are described. Additionally, we demonstrate the presence of toxins in feces, body fluids, and serum and a significant elevation in interleukin 8 levels in animals with severe disease. We conclude that piglets infected with C. difficile mimic many of the key characteristics observed in humans with CDI and are suitable animals in which to investigate the role played by virulence attributes, drug efficacy, and vaccine candidates.

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