Virulence determinants in enteroaggregative Escherichia coli from North India and their interaction in in vitro organ culture system

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Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAEC) is an important diarrhoeal pathogen causing diseases in multiple epidemiological and clinical settings. In developing countries like India, diarrhoeal diseases are one of the major killers among paediatric population and oddly, few studies are available from Indian paediatric population on the variability of EAEC virulence genes. In this study, we examined the distribution of plasmid and chromosomal-encoded virulence determinants in EAEC isolates, and analysed cytokines response generated against EAEC with specific aggregative adherence fimbriae (AAF) type in duodenal biopsies using in vitro organ culture (IVOC) mimicking in vivo conditions. Different virulence marker combinations among strains were reflected as a function of specific adhesins signifying EAEC heterogeneity. fis gene emerged as an important genetic marker apart from aggA and aap. Further, EAEC infection in IVOC showed upregulation of IL-8, IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α and TLR-5 expression. EAEC with AAFII induced significant TLR-5 and IL-8 response, conceivably owing to more pathogenicity markers. This study sheds light on the pattern of EAEC pathotypes prevalent in North Indian paediatric population and highlights the presence of unique virulence combinations in pathogenic strains. Thus, evident diversity in EAEC virulence and multifaceted bacteria-host crosstalk can provide useful insights for the strategic management of diarrhoeal diseases in India, where diarrhoeal outbreaks are more frequent.

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