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PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e23858. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023858. Epub 2011 Aug 24.

Oral and fecal Campylobacter concisus strains perturb barrier function by apoptosis induction in HT-29/B6 intestinal epithelial cells.

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Department of Infectious Diseases, Aalborg Hospital, Aarhus University Hospital, Aalborg, Denmark.


Campylobacter concisus infections of the gastrointestinal tract can be accompanied by diarrhea and inflammation, whereas colonization of the human oral cavity might have a commensal nature. We focus on the pathophysiology of C. concisus and the effects of different clinical oral and fecal C. concisus strains on human HT-29/B6 colon cells. Six oral and eight fecal strains of C. concisus were isolated. Mucus-producing HT-29/B6 epithelial monolayers were infected with the C. concisus strains. Transepithelial electrical resistance (R(t)) and tracer fluxes of different molecule size were measured in Ussing chambers. Tight junction (TJ) protein expression was determined by Western blotting, and subcellular TJ distribution was analyzed by confocal laser-scanning microscopy. Apoptosis induction was examined by TUNEL-staining and Western blot of caspase-3 activation. All strains invaded confluent HT-29/B6 cells and impaired epithelial barrier function, characterized by a time- and dose-dependent decrease in R(t) either after infection from the apical side but even more from the basolateral compartment. TJ protein expression changes were sparse, only in apoptotic areas of infected monolayers TJ proteins were redistributed. Solely the barrier-forming TJ protein claudin-5 showed a reduced expression level to 66±8% (P<0.05), by expression regulation from the gene. Concomitantly, Lactate dehydrogenase release was elevated to 3.1±0.3% versus 0.7±0.1% in control (P<0.001), suggesting cytotoxic effects. Furthermore, oral and fecal C. concisus strains elevated apoptotic events to 5-fold. C. concisus-infected monolayers revealed an increased permeability for 332 Da fluorescein (1.74±0.13 vs. 0.56±0.17 10(-6) cm/s in control, P<0.05) but showed no difference in permeability for 4 kDa FITC-dextran (FD-4). The same was true in camptothecin-exposed monolayers, where camptothecin was used for apoptosis induction.In conclusion, epithelial barrier dysfunction by oral and fecal C. concisus strains could mainly be assigned to apoptotic leaks together with moderate TJ changes, demonstrating a leak-flux mechanism that parallels the clinical manifestation of diarrhea.

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