New study reveals how a probiotic bacterium used to treat irritable bowel syndrome can soothe gut bacterial infections caused by salmonella, offering relief from food borne illnesses that affect millions of people annually.
Manuela Raffatellu, assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, and colleagues at UC Irvine and the University of Washington identified how a probiotic strain of E. coli reduces salmonella colonization by competing with this pathogen for iron, an essential nutrient that salmonella acquires in the gut in order to replicate at high levels.
In fact, the researchers discovered that the E. coli strain called Nissle 1917 acquires iron more efficiently than does salmonella.
As a result, salmonella counts in the gut decrease when Nissle is administered during infection.
"Although we focused on salmonella, our findings suggest that this approach can be effective against other gut bacterial pathogens that need iron to grow," Raffatellu, who's also a member of UC Irvine's Institute for Immunology, said.
"By understanding how these 'bad bugs' get nutrients, we can further study methods to eradicate them," the researcher said.
The study is published in the journal Cell Host and Microbe.