For a long time Campylobacter was only considered as a commensal microorganism in avian hosts restricted to the ceca, without any pathogenic features. The precise reasons for the symptomless chicken carriers are still unknown, but investigations of the gastrointestinal ecology of broiler chickens may improve our understanding of the microbial interactions with the host. Therefore, the current studies were conducted to investigate the effects of Campylobacter jejuni colonization on Escherichia coli translocation and on the metabolic end products (short-chain fatty acids, SCFAs). Following oral infection of 14 day old broiler chickens with 1 × 108 CFU of Campylobacter jejuni NCTC 12744 in two independent animal trials, it was found that C. jejuni heavily colonized the intestine and disseminate to extra-intestinal organs. Moreover, in both animal trials, the findings revealed that C. jejuni promoted the translocation of E. coli with a higher number encountered in the spleen and liver at 14 days post infection (dpi). In addition, Campylobacter affected the microbial fermentation in the gastrointestinal tract of broilers by reducing the amount of propionate, isovalerate, and isobutyrate in the cecal digesta of the infected birds at 2 dpi and, at 7 and 14 dpi, butyrate, isobutyrate, and isovalerate were also decreased. However, in the jejunum, the C. jejuni infection lowered only butyrate concentrations at 14 dpi. These data indicated that C. jejuni may utilize SCFAs as carbon sources to promote its colonization in the chicken gut, suggesting that Campylobacter cannot only alter gut colonization dynamics but might also influence physiological processes due to altered microbial metabolite profiles.
Finally, the results demonstrated that C. jejuni can cross the intestinal epithelial barrier and facilitates the translocation of Campylobacter itself as well as of other enteric microorganisms such as E. coli to extra-intestinal organs of infected birds. Altogether, our findings suggest that the Campylobacter carrier state in chicken is characterised by multiple changes in the intestinal barrier function, which supports multiplication and survival within the host.