The specific composition of bacterial species in a person's gut may protect against or increase susceptibility to Campylobacter
, the most common cause of human bacterial intestinal inflammation, according research published this week in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. The study also found that Campylobacter
infection can yield lasting changes to one's gut bacteria composition.
"It has been known for a long time that the microbiota, or microorganisms in the gut, can protect a person from colonization by organisms that cause intestinal tract disease. However, very little is known about how human gut microbiota influences susceptibility to these organisms, and to Campylobacter
in particular," said senior study author Hilpi Rautelin, MD, PhD, professor of clinical bacteriology at Uppsala University and Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden. "We wanted to see if the composition of the human gut microbiota plays a role in susceptibility to Campylobacter
Rautelin and colleagues followed 24 workers at three poultry slaughterhouses in Sweden. In 2010, they collected fecal samples from the workers once a month from June to September, during the summer peak of Campylobacter
-positive chicken flocks, and again the following February. Fecal samples were cultured for Campylobacter
and analyzed by sequencing for all bacteria. While all participants tested negative for Campylobacter
at the beginning of the study, seven participants became culture positive for the organism during the study. Only one of the Campylobacter
-positive participants experienced symptoms of illness.