Send to

Choose Destination
Gut Microbes. 2014;5(5):618-27. doi: 10.4161/19490976.2014.969642.

Zinc deficiency alters host response and pathogen virulence in a mouse model of enteroaggregative Escherichia coli-induced diarrhea.

Author information

a Center for Global Health ; Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health ; School of Medicine ; University of Virginia ; Charlottesville , VA USA.


Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAEC) is increasingly recognized as a major cause of diarrheal disease globally. In the current study, we investigated the impact of zinc deficiency on the host and pathogenesis of EAEC. Several outcomes of EAEC infection were investigated including weight loss, EAEC shedding and tissue burden, leukocyte recruitment, intestinal cytokine expression, and virulence expression of the pathogen in vivo. Mice fed a protein source defined zinc deficient diet (dZD) had an 80% reduction of serum zinc and a 50% reduction of zinc in luminal contents of the bowel compared to mice fed a protein source defined control diet (dC). When challenged with EAEC, dZD mice had significantly greater weight loss, stool shedding, mucus production, and, most notably, diarrhea compared to dC mice. Zinc deficient mice had reduced infiltration of leukocytes into the ileum in response to infection suggesting an impaired immune response. Interestingly, expression of several EAEC virulence factors were increased in luminal contents of dZD mice. These data show a dual effect of dietary zinc in benefitting the host while impairing virulence of the pathogen. The study demonstrates the critical importance of zinc and may help elucidate the benefits of zinc supplementation in cases of childhood diarrhea and malnutrition.


Cftr, cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator; EAEC, Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli; Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli; dC, defined control diet; dZD, defined zinc deficient diet; diarrhea; enteropathy; virulence; zinc deficiency

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Taylor & Francis Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center