Escherichia coli modulates extraintestinal spread of Staphylococcus aureus

Donavon J. Hess, Robb M. Garni, Michelle J. Henry-Stanley, Carol L. Wells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Staphylococcus aureus remains one of the most frequent causes of life-threatening systemic infection in surgical and trauma patients. It is understood that S. aureus colonization predisposes to complicating infection, but extraintestinal dissemination of S. aureus from the intestinal lumen to the draining mesenteric lymph nodes has not been systematically studied. After oral inoculation with high numbers of S. aureus, otherwise normal mice had low levels of cecal S. aureus (6.7 log10/g) and the incidence of extraintestinal dissemination was 30%. As expected, parenteral Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS) was associated with increased numbers of cecal S. aureus, but the incidence of translocation remained unchanged. Purified LPS had no effect on S. aureus internalization by cultured HT-29 enterocytes and no effect on S. aureus transmigration through confluent enterocytes. To begin to clarify the effect of alterations in cecal bacteria on S. aureus translocation, mice were orally inoculated with E. coli and S. aureus. Compared with mice inoculated with S. aureus alone, these mice had increased numbers of cecal E. coli and S. aureus, and the incidence of S. aureus translocation nearly doubled from 46% to 88%. Experiments with HT-29 enterocytes indicated that viable E. coli had no effect on S. aureus internalization, but viable E. coli was at least 40 times more potent in inducing S. aureus transmigration across confluent enterocytes compared with a corresponding amount of purified LPS. Thus, S. aureus disseminated from the intestinal tract of normal mice by a mechanism that could involve paracellular migration across the intestinal epithelial barrier.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)376-381
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2005


  • Enterocyte
  • Intestine
  • Mouse
  • Sepsis
  • Translocation


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