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Gastroenterology. 2012 Jan;142(1):86-95.e5. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2011.09.042. Epub 2011 Oct 1.

Campylobacter jejuni induces colitis through activation of mammalian target of rapamycin signaling.

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Department of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.



Campylobacter jejuni is the worldwide leading cause of bacterial-induced enteritis. The molecular and cellular events that lead to campylobacteriosis are poorly understood. We identify mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) as a signaling pathway that leads to C jejuni-induced intestinal inflammation.


Germ-free (control) or conventionally derived Il10(-/-) mice that express enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) under the control of nuclear factor κB (Il10(-/-); NF-κB(EGFP) mice) were infected with C jejuni (10(9) colony-forming units/mouse) for 12 days; their responses were determined using histologic, semiquantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction, fluorescence in situ hybridization, transmission electron microscopy, and tissue culture analyses. mTOR signaling was blocked by daily intraperitoneal injections of the pharmacologic inhibitor rapamycin (1.5 mg/kg). CD4(+) T cells were depleted by intraperitoneal injections of antibodies against CD4 (0.5 mg/mouse every 3 days). Bacterial survival in splenocytes was measured using a gentamycin killing assay.


C jejuni induced intestinal inflammation, which correlated with activation of mTOR signaling and neutrophil infiltration. The inflamed intestines of these mice had increased levels of interleukin-1β, Cxcl2, interleukin-17a, and EGFP; C jejuni localized to colons and extraintestinal tissues of infected Il10(-/-); NF-κB(EGFP) mice compared with controls. Rapamycin, administered before or after introduction of C jejuni, blocked C jejuni-induced intestinal inflammation and bacterial accumulation. LC3II processing and killing of C jejuni were increased in splenocytes incubated with rapamycin compared with controls.


mTOR signaling mediates C jejuni-induced colitis in Il10(-/-) mice, independently of T-cell activation. Factors involved in mTOR signaling might be therapeutic targets for campylobacteriosis.

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