Intestinal colonization and acute immune response in commercial turkeys following inoculation with Campylobacter jejuni constructs encoding antibiotic-resistance markers

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Sylte, Matthew
Johnson, Timothy
Meyer, Ella
Inbody, Matt
Trachsel, Julian
Looft, Torey
Susta, Leonardo
Wu, Zuowei
Zhang, Qijing
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Veterinary Microbiology and Preventive Medicine

Consumption of contaminated poultry products is one of the main sources of human campylobacteriosis, of which Campylobacter jejuni subsp. jejuni (C. jejuni) is responsible for approximately 90% of the cases. At slaughter, the ceca of commercial chickens and turkeys are the main anatomical site where C. jejuni asymptomatically colonizes. We have previously colonized commercial turkey poults with different isolates of C. jejuni and evaluated different media to best enumerate Campylobacter from intestinal samples, but the host-response is unknown in turkeys. Enumeration of Campylobacter(colony forming units (cfu)/gram of intestinal contents) can be challenging, and can be confounded if animals are colonized with multiple species of Campylobacter. In order to precisely enumerate the C. jejuni isolate used to experimentally colonize turkeys, constructs of C. jejuni (NCTC 11,168) were tagged with different antibiotic resistance markers at the CmeF locus (chloramphenicol (CjCm) or kanamycin (CjK)). We sought to examine the kinetics of intestinal colonization using the antibiotic resistant constructs, and characterize the immune response in cecal tissue of turkeys. In vitroanalysis of the tagged antibiotic-resistant constructs demonstrated no changes in motility, morphology, or adherence and invasion of INT-407 cells compared to the parent isolate NCTC 11,168. Two animal experiments were completed to evaluate intestinal colonization by the constructs. In experiment 1, three-week old poults were colonized after oral gavage for 14 days, and CjCm and CjK cfu were recovered from cecal, but not ileal contents. In experiment 2, nine-week old poults were orally inoculated with CjCm, and the abundance of CjCm cfu/g of cecal contents significantly decreased beyond 14 days after inoculation. Significant lesions were detected in CjCm colonized poults at day 2 post-colonization. Using immunohistochemistry, Campylobacter antigen was detected in between cecal villi by day 7 of CjCm colonized poults. Quantitative RT-PCR of CjCm-colonized cecal tissue demonstrated significant down-regulation of IL-1β, IL-10 and IL-13 mRNA, and significant up-regulation of IL-6, IL-8, IL-17 A, IL-22 and IFNγ mRNA on day 2, and for some on day 7 post-colonization. All differentially expressed genes were similar to mock-infected poults by day 14. These data suggest that C. jejuni induced a brief inflammatory response in the cecum of poults that quickly resolved. Results from this study provide valuable insight into host-response and persistent colonization of the turkey cecum. These findings will help to develop and test strategies to promote food safety in commercial turkeys.


This article is published as Sylte, Matthew J., Timothy A. Johnson, Ella L. Meyer, Matt H. Inbody, Julian Trachsel, Torey Looft, Leonardo Susta, Zuowei Wu, and Qijing Zhang. "Intestinal colonization and acute immune response in commercial turkeys following inoculation with Campylobacter jejuni constructs encoding antibiotic-resistance markers." Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology 210 (2019): 6-14. DOI: 10.1016/j.vetimm.2019.02.003.