[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We present here the complete genome sequence of a strain of enteroinvasive Escherichia coli O96:H19 from a severe foodborne outbreak in a canteen in Italy in 2014. The complete genome may provide important information
about the acquired pathogenicity of this strain and the transition between commensal and pathogenic E. coli.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · Genome Announcements
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Since 2006, the European Union Reference Laboratory for E. coli (EU-RL) has developed and evaluated standard operating procedures for the identification and typing of verocytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC) and for their detection in food, mainly based on PCR detection of virulence genes. In particular, the EU-RL coordinated the development of the Technical Specification ISO TS 13136:2012 on the detection of VTEC in food and animal feed, based on the real-time PCR screening of food enrichment cultures. A total of 13 proficiency testing (PT) rounds were organized: 7 PTs on the identification and typing of VTEC and other pathogenic E. coli strains (detection of virulence genes by PCR and identification of the VTEC serogroups by serological and molecular methods) and 6 PTs on the detection of VTEC in different matrices (carcass swabs, milk, spinach, water, seeds and sprouts), analyzed by using the ISO TS 13136 method. A Web-based platform for submitting the PT results was developed and used since 2010. Between 2007 and 2014, a positive trend was observed in both the number of participants and their performance. Through its PT program, the EU-RL has consolidated a network of reference laboratories for the control of pathogenic E.coli in the EU Member States. Such a network can contribute to gather harmonized data on the prevalence of VTEC in food, to improve the knowledge of the epidemiology of VTEC infections in Europe, and to provide the EC with more standardized operative structures and tools to face possible emergencies in this field of food safety.
No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Accreditation and Quality Assurance
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), known as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), are characterized by an abnormal immunological response to commensal bacteria colonizing intestinal lumen and mucosa. Among the latter, strains of adherent-invasive Escherichia coli (AIEC), capable of adhering to and invading epithelium, and to replicate in macrophages, have been described in CD adults. We aimed at identifying and characterizing AIEC strains in pediatric IBD.
In all, 24 CD children, 10 UC, and 23 controls were investigated. Mucosal biopsies, taken during colonoscopy, were analyzed for the presence of AIEC strains by an adhesive-invasive test. Protein expression of the specific AIEC receptor, the carcinoembryonic antigen-related cell adhesion molecule 6 (CEACAM6), was evaluated by western blot and immunohistochemistry, while tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin (IL)-8 mRNA expression was detected by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), after bacterial infection. Transmission electron microscopy and trans-epithelial electric resistance assays were performed on biopsies to assess bacteria-induced morphological and functional epithelial alterations.
Two bacterial strains, EC15 and EC10, were found to adhere and invade the Caco2 cell line, similar to the well-known AIEC strain LF82 (positive control): they upregulated CEACAM6, TNF-α, and IL-8 gene/protein expression, in vitro and in cultured intestinal mucosa; they could also survive inside macrophages and damage the epithelial barrier integrity. Lesions in the inflamed tissues were associated with bacterial infection.
This is the first study showing the presence of adhesive-invasive bacteria strains in the inflamed tissues of children with IBD. Collective features of these strains indicate that they belong to the AIEC spectrum, suggesting their possible role in disease pathogenesis.
Full-text · Article · May 2012 · Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Intestinal infections with Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in children can lead to the hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Shiga toxins (Stx) released in the gut by bacteria enter the blood stream and target the kidney causing endothelial injury. Free toxins have never been detected in the blood of HUS patients, but they have been found on the surface of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN).
With respect to their clinical features, the clinical relevance of the amounts of serum Stx (cytotoxicity assay with human endothelial cells) and PMN-bound Stx (cytofluorimetric assay) in 46 patients with STEC-associated HUS was evaluated.
Stx-positive PMN were found in 60% of patients, whereas negligible amounts of free Stx were detected in the sera. Patients with high amounts of Stx on PMN showed preserved or slightly impaired renal function (incomplete form of HUS), whereas cases with low amounts of Stx usually presented evidence of acute renal failure.
These observations suggest that the extent of renal damage in children with STEC-associated HUS could depend on the concentration of Stx present on their PMN and presumably delivered by them to the kidney. As previously shown by experimental models from our laboratory, high amounts of Stx could induce a reduced release of cytokines by the renal endothelium, with a consequent lower degree of inflammation. Conversely, low toxin amounts can trigger the cytokine cascade, provoking inflammation, thereby leading to tissue damage.
No preview · Article · Jun 2011 · The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Strains of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) are a heterogeneous E. coli group that may cause severe disease in humans. STEC have been categorized into seropathotypes (SPTs) based on their phenotypic
and molecular characteristics and the clinical features of the associated diseases. SPTs range from A to E, according to a
decreasing rank of pathogenicity. To define the virulence gene asset (“virulome”) characterizing the highly pathogenic SPTs,
we used microarray hybridization to compare the whole genomes of STEC belonging to SPTs B, C, and D with that of STEC O157
(SPT A). The presence of the open reading frames (ORFs) associated with SPTs A and B was subsequently investigated by PCR
in a larger panel of STEC and in other E. coli strains. A genomic island termed OI-57 was present in SPTs A and B but not in the other SPTs. OI-57 harbors the putative
virulence gene adfO, encoding a factor enhancing the adhesivity of STEC O157, and ckf, encoding a putative killing factor for the bacterial cell. PCR analyses showed that OI-57 was present in its entirety in
the majority of the STEC genomes examined, indicating that it represents a stable acquisition of the positive clonal lineages.
OI-57 was also present in a high proportion of the human enteropathogenic E. coli genomes assayed, suggesting that it could be involved in the attaching-and-effacing colonization of the intestinal mucosa.
In conclusion, OI-57 appears to be part of the virulome of pathogenic STEC and further studies are needed to elucidate its
role in the pathogenesis of STEC infections.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2010 · Infection and immunity
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this study we evaluated the ability of lactoferrin, the most abundant antimicrobial protein in airway secretions, to bind the surface structures of a Burkholderia strain cystic fibrosis-isolated. Burkholderia cenocepacia is a gram-negative bacterium involved as respiratory pathogen in cystic fibrosis patient infections. This bacterium possesses filamentous structures, named cable pili that have been proposed as virulence factors because of their ability to bind to respiratory epithelia and mucin. Previously, we demonstrated that bovine lactoferrin was able to influence the efficiency of invasion of different iron-regulated morphological forms of B. cenocepacia. Bovine lactoferrin showed to efficiently inhibit invasion of alveolar epithelial cells by free-living bacteria or iron-induced aggregates or biofilm. Results of the present study demonstrate that bovine lactoferrin is also able to specifically bind to B. cenocepacia cells and show that cable pili are involved in this interaction. The attachment of bovine lactoferrin to pili led to a reduced binding of bacterial cells to mucin. Since cable pili are implicated in mediating the bacterial interactions with mucin and epithelial cells, lactoferrin binding to these structures could play an important role in neutralizing bacterial infection in cystic fibrosis patients.
No preview · Article · Apr 2010 · Biology of Metals
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The prevalence of virulence and cytolethal distending toxin (CDT) genes and the cytotoxic activity in Vero and HEp-2 cells was estimated in 29 Campylobacter jejuni and 36 Campylobacter coli from foods, animals and humans isolates. All C. jejuni showed flaA, cadF, cdtA, cdtB, cdtC and cdt cluster genes fragments, except for ceuE (86.2%) and cdt genes (93.1%). Amongst C. coli strains, a lower prevalence of ceuE gene (83.3%) was detected than that for cdtA, cdtB, cdtC genes (97.2%), cdt gene cluster (94.4%) and cdt genes (86.1%); whereas flaA and cadF genes were amplified in all isolates. Despite the high prevalence of CDT genes only 8 (27.6%) C. jejuni and 1 (2.8%) C. coli showed evidence for cytotoxin production in HEp-2 cells. However, how CDT positive and CDT negative strains differ in their biological properties remains unknown, but the relative higher prevalence of cytotoxicity in C. jejuni could be consistent with its predominant epidemiological role in human infections.
No preview · Article · Mar 2009 · Comparative immunology, microbiology and infectious diseases
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study investigated two foodborne outbreaks of gastroenteritis that occurred 10 days apart among individuals who had meals at the restaurant of a farm holiday resort. Mild gastrointestinal symptoms were reported and none of the patients needed hospitalization. Mean incubation times were 45 and 33 h, and the overall attack rates were 43.5 and 58.3%, respectively. Stool sample examination was negative for common enteric pathogens in both outbreaks. Specimens from 13 people involved in the second outbreak and 3 restaurant staff were examined for diarrhoeagenic Escherichia coli. An enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC) strain of serotype O92:H33 was isolated from six participants and one member of staff. In particular, the EAEC strain was isolated from five of the six cases of diarrhoea examined. The strain showed an aggregative pattern of adherence to HEp-2 cells, did not produce a biofilm and possessed the virulence-related genes aat, aggR, aap and set1A, but not the astA gene. A retrospective cohort study indicated a pecorino cheese made with unpasteurized sheep milk as the possible source (P<0.001). Samples of the cheese had E. coli counts higher than 10(6) c.f.u. g(-1), but the outbreak EAEC strain was not isolated. This report confirms that EAEC infections are probably underdiagnosed because of the limited availability of laboratories capable of identifying this group of pathogenic E. coli.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2008 · Journal of Medical Microbiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The concomitant occurrence of a case of haemolytic-uraemic syndrome (HUS) and 62 cases of mild gastroenteritis in schools of a small rural community in southern Italy induced the health authorities to suspect a foodborne outbreak of shiga-toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infection. The schools were closed and the catering service involved was investigated. However, STEC were not isolated from the HUS case or from the 56 cases of gastroenteritis examined, and the HUS case and the outbreak of gastroenteritis were probably just coincidental. A retrospective cohort study failed to show any correlation with consumption of school meals and suggested that the outbreak probably started outside the school setting and then spread within the schools by person-to-person transmission. All the cases examined were negative for common enteric pathogens and the responsible agent for the cases of gastroenteritis was not identified. The concern raised in the small community by the occurrence of a severe case of HUS and the lack of a rapid epidemiological assessment excluding the occurrence of a STEC outbreak, turned an epidemic episode of mild gastroenteritis into a public health emergency with relevant socioeconomic consequences. Prompt intervention in outbreaks following timely and effective risk communication are crucial for taking the most appropriate control measures and avoiding the spread of fear and panic in the community.
Full-text · Article · May 2006 · Epidemiology and Infection
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hemolytic-uremic syndrome, the main cause of acute renal failure in early childhood, is caused primarily by intestinal infections
from some Escherichia coli strains that produce Shiga toxins. The toxins released in the gut are targeted to renal endothelium after binding to polymorphonuclear
leukocytes. The presence of Shiga toxins in the feces and the circulating neutrophils of 20 children with hemolytic uremic
syndrome was evaluated by the Vero cell cytotoxicity assay and flow cytometric analysis, respectively. The latter showed the
presence of Shiga toxins on the polymorphonuclear leukocytes of 13 patients, 5 of whom had no other microbiologic or serologic
evidence of infection by Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli. A positive relationship was observed between the amounts of Shiga toxins released in the intestinal lumen and those released
in the bloodstream. The toxins were detectable on the neutrophils for a median period of 5 days after they were no longer
detectable in stools. This investigation confirms that the immunodetection of Shiga toxins on neutrophils is a valuable tool
for laboratory diagnosis of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli infection in hemolytic-uremic syndrome and provides clues for further studies on the role of neutrophils in the pathogenesis
of this syndrome.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2006 · Journal of Clinical Microbiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bacteria of the genus Sphingomonas are environmental organisms that have recently been implicated in a variety of community-acquired and nosocomial infections. During studies on bacteria-cell interactions, we incurred a microorganism contaminating our HeLa cell culture, possibly from water utilized for reagent preparation; this bacterium appeared to tightly adhere to cell monolayers and to survive, with only limited growth rate, which did not seem to alter cells as far as shape, growth rate or survival were concerned. The contaminating organism was isolated and partially characterized by morphological, genetic, and biochemical assays. Mechanisms of cell interaction and entry into epithelial cells were investigated by electron microscopy, immunofluorescence, and biochemical inhibitors. Morphological and biochemical features indicated that the microorganism belonged to the genus Sphingomonas. Electron microscopy showed that contact between the Sphingomonas bacterium and epithelial cells leads to a dramatic alteration of the cell surface, with formation of numerous microvillar extensions plus membrane ruffling. Confocal microscopy and the use of inhibitors showed that actin microfilaments were involved during attachment and entry into HeLa cells. Macropinosome formation and an inhibitory effect by amiloride indicate that internalization occurs in part via a macropinocytosis mechanism. Moreover, cholesterol distribution at the site of bacterial binding suggests that Sphingomonas bacteria could use the lipid rafts as initial binding sites.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2004 · Research in Microbiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The mean annual incidence of hemolytic uremic syndrome in persons </=15 years of age in Italy from 1988 to 2000 was 0.28 per 100,000 population. Laboratory investigations showed that Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infection occurred in 73.1% of patients. STEC O157 was the most common serotype, but a considerable number of cases were from infections by non-O157 STEC.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2003 · Emerging infectious diseases
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A collection of epidemiologically unrelated verocytotoxin (VT)-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC) strains of serogroup O111 isolated from human patients and cattle with diarrhoeal disease in five different countries were characterised by determination of their VT genotypes, the presence of other virulence factors such as the intimin-coding eae gene and the enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) plasmid, and their antibiotic susceptibility patterns. The genetic relatedness among isolates was evaluated by genomic DNA fingerprinting techniques such as restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of ribosomal RNA genes (ribotyping) and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. The results indicated that the VTEC O111 examined belong to two distinct clonal lineages. The first group was constituted mainly of non-motile, eae-positive, EHEC plasmid-positive isolates from both man and cattle. The second lineage was represented by an O111:H2 epidemic strain, isolated during an outbreak of haemolytic uraemic syndrome in France and exhibiting an unusual combination of virulence factors: VT production and aggregative adhesion to HEp-2 cells associated with an enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC) plasmid.
Full-text · Article · Nov 1999 · Journal of Medical Microbiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O111:H2 strains from an outbreak of hemolytic-uremic syndrome showed aggregative adhesion to HEp-2 cells and harbored large plasmids which hybridized with the enteroaggregative E. coli probe PCVD432. These strains present a novel combination of virulence factors and might be as pathogenic to humans as the classic enterohemorrhagic E. coli.
Full-text · Article · Mar 1998 · Journal of Clinical Microbiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fifty-five Escherichia coli strains belonging to enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) serogroups were examined for phenotypic and genetic factors associated with virulence. The strains were isolated in Italy from children with diarrhea and identified as EPEC by clinical laboratories using commercially available antisera. O:H serotyping showed that 35 strains (27 of O26, O111, and O128 serogroups) belonged to 11 serotypes considered to be classical EPEC O:H serotypes. The other 20 isolates were classified as 15 nonclassical EPEC O:H serotypes. All the potential EPEC virulence factors associated with bacterial adhesion (localized adherence, fluorescentactin staining test positivity, presence of the attaching and effacing [eaeA] gene), the production of verotoxin, and the positivity with the enterohemorrhagic E. coli probe were significantly more frequent among isolates belonging to classical than nonclassical serotypes. Strains displaying an aggregative adhesion and hybridizing with the enteroaggregative DNA probe were found in serogroups O86, O111, and O126. Verotoxin-producing isolates belonged to serogroups O26, O111, and O128. Only one of the isolates hybridized with the EPEC adherence factor (EAF) probe, but 33 strains gave positive results with the eae probe, confirming that the former is more suitable in epidemiological studies in European countries. These results indicate that up to 75% of strains identified as EPEC by commercial antisera may possess potential virulence properties and/or belong to classical EPEC O:H serotypes and suggest that O grouping is still a useful diagnostic tool for presumptive identification of diarrheagenic E. coli in clinical laboratories.