Novel dietary proteins selectively affect intestinal health in vitro after clostridium difficile-secreted toxin a exposure

Paulus G M Jochems, Johan Garssen, Pascale C S Rietveld, Coen Govers, Monic M M Tomassen, Harry J Wichers, Jeroen van Bergenhenegouwen, Rosalinde Masereeuw

Published: September 2020


Bacterial gastroenteritis forms a burden on a global scale, both socially and economically. The Gram-positive bacterium Clostridium difficile is an inducer of gastrointestinal bacterial infections, often triggered following disruption of the microbiota by broad-spectrum antibiotics to treat other conditions. The clinical manifestatiaons, e.g., diarrhea, are driven by its toxins secretion, toxin A (TcdA) and toxin B (TcdB). Current therapies are focused on discontinuing patient medication, including antibiotics. However, relapse rates upon therapy are high (20-25%). Here, eighteen dietary proteins were evaluated for their capacity to restore gut health upon C. difficile-derived TcdA exposure. We used bioengineered intestinal tubules to assess proteins for their beneficial effects by examining the epithelial barrier, cell viability, brush-border enzyme activity, IL-6 secretion, IL-8 secretion and nitric oxide (NO) levels upon TcdA challenge. TcdA effectively disrupted the epithelial barrier, increased mitochondrial activity, but did not affect alkaline phosphatase activity, IL-6, IL-8 and NO levels. Intervention with dietary proteins did not show a protective effect on epithelial barrier integrity or mitochondrial activity. However, bovine plasma and potato protein increased alkaline phosphatase activity, egg-white protein increased IL-6 and IL-8 release and wheat, lesser mealworm and yeast protein increased NO levels after TcdA exposure. Hence, dietary proteins can influence parameters involved in intestinal physiology and immune activation suggesting that supplementation with specific dietary proteins may be of benefit during C. difficile infections.

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