Campylobacter jejuni and associated immune mechanisms: short-term effects and long-term implications for infants in low-income countries

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Purpose of reviewCampylobacter jejuni is recognized as one of the most common causes of food-borne gastrointestinal illness worldwide, resulting in a self-limiting dysentery in developed countries. However, it is increasingly gaining attention due to its association with postinfectious complications such as Guillain–Barré Syndrome and recently recognized importance in early childhood diarrhea in developing countries. We hypothesize that the inflammation mediated by C. jejuni infection causes environmental enteric dysfunction, and with contribution from diet and the host, microbiome may be responsible for growth faltering in children and developmental disability.Recent findingsDiet plays a major role in the impact of C. jejuni infection, both by availability of micronutrients for the bacteria and host as well as shaping the microbiome that affords resistance. Early childhood repeated exposure to the bacterium results in inflammation that affords long-term immunity but, in the short term, can lead to malabsorption, oral vaccine failure, cognitive delay and increased under-5 mortality.SummaryAs interest in C. jejuni increases, our understanding of its virulence mechanisms has improved. However, much work remains to be done to fully understand the implications of immune-mediated inflammation and its potential role in diseases such as environmental enteric dysfunction.

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