In the United States, Salmonella enterica ser. Enteritidis (SE) is among the leading bacterial cause of foodborne illness via consumption of raw or undercooked eggs. The top Salmonella serovars implicated in U.S. foodborne outbreaks associated with chicken consumption include SE, Typhimurium (ST), Heidelberg (SH), Montevideo, Mbandka, Braenderup, and Newport. While enforcement actions target the eradication of SE from layer hens, there is a growing concern that other serovars could occupy this niche and be a cause of egg-transmitted human salmonellosis. Therefore, we tested the invasion and survival of SE, SH, ST, and Salmonella enterica ser. Hadar (S. Hadar) at 4 and 20 h post infection (hpi) in chicken ovarian granulosa cells (cGC); a cellular layer which surrounds the previtelline layer and central yolk in egg-forming follicles. We also evaluated cGC transcriptional changes, using an antibacterial response PCR array, to assess host response to intracellular Salmonella.
We observed that invasion of cGC by SE, SH, and ST was significantly higher than invasion by S. Hadar, with ST showing the highest level of invasion. The Bacterial Survival Index, defined as the ratio of intracellular bacteria at 20 and 4 h, were 18.94, 7.35, and 15.27 for SE, SH, and ST, respectively, with no significant difference in survival between SE or ST compared to SH. Evaluation of cGC anti-Salmonella gene responses indicated that at 4 hpi there was a significant decrease in Toll-like receptor (TLR)-4 mRNA in cGC infected with SE, whereas TLR5 and myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88 were significantly down regulated across all serovars. At 4 hpi, invasion by Salmonella serovars resulted in significant upregulation of several antimicrobial genes, and proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines (PICs). At 20 hpi, all the serovars induced PICs with SH being the strongest inducer. Additionally, SE, SH and ST differentially induced signal transduction pathways. Although only a single strain from each serovar was tested, cGC presents a useful ex vivo cell culture model to assess the virulence potential of Salmonella serovars.