JUL 15, 2015 02:59 PM PDT

Diversity of Gut Microbiota Predicts Resistance to Clostridium difficile

Clostridium difficile is most commonly referred to as a healthcare-associated infection (HAI), with at risk-populations including older adults who are currently receiving medical care or who are taking antibiotics. According to the CDC, in 2011 there were approximately 50,000 infections caused by C. difficile. Of the persons infected 29,000 died within 30 days of their initial diagnosis. C. difficile is a type of spore-forming bacteria that produces two types of enterotoxins. It accounts for 15-25 % antibiotic associated diarrhea (AAD). C. difficile infection can also result in pseudomembranous colitis (PMC), toxic megacolon, perforations of the colon, sepsis and sometimes death. It is currently regarded as the leading cause of hospital-acquired infections in the US.
Clostridium difficile is the leading cause of hospital acquired infections in the United States.
Researchers at the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine have recently discovered that certain species present in the gut may help protect colonization by C. difficile. When the normal microflora in the gut are wiped out by antibiotics, C. difficile has the opportunity to colonize the gut and produce enterotoxins, which is why antibiotic treatment is considered a major risk factor for acquiring a C. difficile infection. In their study, researchers administered one of 7 different antibiotics in mice order to alter the indigenous bacteria present in the gut. Following a 24 h recovery period, mice were challenged with C. difficile spores. Fecal samples from the treated mice were collected on the day of the C. difficile challenge as well as the day after the challenge. Fecal samples were processed to enumerate aerobic as well as anaerobic bacteria present in the samples followed by DNA sequencing. The research team used relative abundance data to build a machine learning regression model to predict the levels of C. difficile that could be found in the fecal samples 24 h following the challenge.

Bacterial populations including Porphyromonadaceae, Lachnospiraceae, Lactobacillus, and Alistipes were reported to be protective against C. difficile colonization and Escherichia and Streptococcus species were found to help enhance C. difficile colonization. One species, Akkermansia, was found to have a strong dependency on other members of the microbiota. The authors of the study concluded that individual bacterial populations do not drive colonization resistance to C. difficile. Instead, authors believe that different bacterial species present in the gut work together to mediate colonization resistance against C. difficile.

The findings of this study could lead to better methods to assess the risk of a particular patient to acquire a hospital acquired infection, such as C. difficile. This would require sequencing of the patient's gut microbiota to determine what bacterial species are missing and added back via probiotic treatment. This method could be used as a pre-screening preventative, similar to those used to screen for MRSA in hospital settings upon admission of a new patient.

Sources: CDC, American Society for Microbiology
About the Author
  • I am a postdoctoral researcher with interests in pre-harvest microbial food safety, nonthermal food processing technologies, zoonotic pathogens, and plant-microbe interactions. My current research projects involve the optimization of novel food processing technologies to reduce the number of foodborne pathogens on fresh produce. I am a food geek!
You May Also Like
SEP 20, 2018
Microbiology
SEP 20, 2018
How A Virus Impacts a Bacterium that Infects People
You may have never heard of melioidosis, also known as Whitmore's disease, but it is a scary infection in many parts of the world....
SEP 30, 2018
Drug Discovery
SEP 30, 2018
Researchers Re-classify the 'Magic Mushroom' Drug
Researchers at John Hopkins have evaluated the safety and efficacy of compound, psilocybin, found in hallucinogenic mushrooms. They suggested that if evalu...
OCT 05, 2018
Videos
OCT 05, 2018
Listeria Infections Linked to Deli Ham
The CDC has some advice about a ham recall announced on October 3 by Johnston County Hams, Inc....
OCT 19, 2018
Microbiology
OCT 19, 2018
A Newly Discovered Bacterial Toxin Reveals More About Bacterial Warfare
Even bacteria have to use self-defense. Some deploy toxins that they can use to dominate other microbial competitors....
NOV 21, 2018
Immunology
NOV 21, 2018
Yin and Yang of Malaria
Researchers determine the affect of preventative treatment for malaria on infants...
NOV 25, 2018
Microbiology
NOV 25, 2018
Researchers Learn How Hantavirus Infects Cells
First identified in 1993, hantavirus infections can cause dangerous and potentially deadly respiratory infections....
Loading Comments...