Commensal bacteria mediated defenses against pathogens.
Previous reports have shown that Escherichia coli O157:H7 infection is strongly modified by intestinal microbes. In this paper, we examined whether bifidobacteria protect against E. coli O157:H7 infections using gnotobiotic mice di-associated with Bifidobacterium strains (6 species, 9 strains) and E. coli O157:H7. Seven days after oral administration of each Bifidobacterium strain, the mice were orally infected with E. coli O157:H7 and their mortality was examined. Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis 157F-4-1 (B. infantis 157F) and B. longum subsp. longum NCC2705 (B. longum NS) protected against the lethal infection, while mice associated with all other Bifidobacterium strains, including type strains of B. longum subsp. infantis and B. longum subsp. longum, died. There were no significant differences in the numbers of E. coli O157:H7 in the faeces among the Bifidobacterium-associated mouse groups. However, the Shiga toxin concentrations in the cecal contents and sera of the GB mice associated with B. infantis 157F and B. longum NS were significantly lower than those of the other groups. However, there were no significant differences in the volatile fatty acid concentrations and histopathological lesions between these two groups. These data suggest that some strains of B. longum subsp. longum/infantis can protect against the lethal infections of E. coli O157:H7 by preventing Shiga toxin production in the cecum and/or Shiga toxin transfer from the intestinal lumen to the bloodstream.