Host-pathogen Interaction at the Intestinal Mucosa Correlates With Zoonotic Potential of Streptococcus suis

Maria Laura Ferrando, Astrid de Greeff, Willemien J. M. van Rooijen, Norbert Stockhofe-Zurwieden, Jens Nielsen, Paul J. Wichgers Schreur, Yvonne Pannekoek, Annet Heuvelink, Arie van der Ende, Hilde Smith, Constance Schultsz

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    Background. Streptococcus suis has emerged as an important cause of bacterial meningitis in adults. The ingestion of undercooked pork is a risk factor for human S. suis serotype 2 (SS2) infection. Here we provide experimental evidence indicating that the gastrointestinal tract is an entry site of SS2 infection. Methods. We developed a noninvasive in vivo model to study oral SS2 infection in piglets. We compared in vitro interaction of S. suis with human and porcine intestinal epithelial cells (IEC). Results. Two out of 15 piglets showed clinical symptoms compatible with S. suis infection 24–48 hours after ingestion of SS2. SS2 was detected in mesenteric lymph nodes of 40% of challenged piglets. SS2 strains isolated from patients showed significantly higher adhesion to human IEC compared to invasive strains isolated from pigs. In contrast, invasive SS9 strains showed significantly higher adhesion to porcine IEC. Translocation across human IEC, which occurred predominately via a paracellular route, was significantly associated with clonal complex 1, the predominant zoonotic genotype. Adhesion and translocation were dependent on capsular polysaccharide production. Conclusions. SS2 should be considered a food-borne pathogen. S. suis interaction with human and pig IEC correlates with S. suis serotype and genotype, which can explain the zoonotic potential of SS2.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)95-105
    Number of pages11
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


    • Streptococcus suis
    • Intestinal translocation
    • Zoonotic infections
    • Serotype
    • Clonal complex
    • Tight junctions
    • Piglets


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