Escherichia coli O157:H7 is a major foodborne pathogen that can cause serious human illness characterized by hemorrhagic diarrhea and kidney failure. The pathology of enterohemorrhagic E. coli O157:H7 (EHEC) infection is primarily mediated by verotoxins, which bind to the globotriaosylceramide receptor on host cells. Antibiotics are contraindicated for treating EHEC infection because they lead to increased verotoxin release, thereby increasing the risk of renal failure and death in patients. Thus, alternative strategies are needed for controlling EHEC infections in humans. This study investigated the effect of subinhibitory concentrations of five plant-derived antimicrobial agents (PDAs) that are generally considered as safe, i.e., trans-cinnamaldehyde, eugenol, carvacrol, thymol, and β-resorcylic acid, on EHEC motility, adhesion to human intestinal epithelial cells, verotoxin production, and virulence gene expression. All tested PDAs reduced EHEC motility and attachment to human intestinal epithelial cells (P < 0.05) and decreased verotoxin synthesis by EHEC. The reverse transcription real-time PCR data revealed that PDAs decreased the expression of critical virulence genes in EHEC (P < 0.05). The results collectively suggest that these PDAs could be used to reduce EHEC virulence, but follow-up studies in animal models are necessary to validate these findings.
- Escherichia coli O157:H7
- Plant-derived antimicrobial agents