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PLoS One. 2017 Jun 14;12(6):e0178966. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0178966. eCollection 2017.

Intestinal organoids model human responses to infection by commensal and Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry, and Microbiology, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, United States of America.
Center for Microbiome Research and Department of Microbiology and Physiological Systems, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts, United States of America.


Infection with Shiga toxin (Stx) producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 can cause the potentially fatal complication hemolytic uremic syndrome, and currently only supportive therapy is available. Lack of suitable animal models has hindered study of this disease. Induced human intestinal organoids (iHIOs), generated by in vitro differentiation of pluripotent stem cells, represent differentiated human intestinal tissue. We show that iHIOs with addition of human neutrophils can model E. coli intestinal infection and innate cellular responses. Commensal and O157:H7 introduced into the iHIO lumen replicated rapidly achieving high numbers. Commensal E. coli did not cause damage, and were completely contained within the lumen, suggesting defenses, such as mucus production, can constrain non-pathogenic strains. Some O157:H7 initially co-localized with cellular actin. Loss of actin and epithelial integrity was observed after 4 hours. O157:H7 grew as filaments, consistent with activation of the bacterial SOS stress response. SOS is induced by reactive oxygen species (ROS), and O157:H7 infection increased ROS production. Transcriptional profiling (RNAseq) demonstrated that both commensal and O157:H7 upregulated genes associated with gastrointestinal maturation, while infection with O157:H7 upregulated inflammatory responses, including interleukin 8 (IL-8). IL-8 is associated with neutrophil recruitment, and infection with O157:H7 resulted in recruitment of human neutrophils into the iHIO tissue.

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