Infection and immunity

The levels of Brachyspira hyodysenteriae binding to porcine colonic mucins differ between individuals, and binding is increased to mucins from infected pigs with de novo MUC5AC synthesis.

PMID 25644008


Brachyspira hyodysenteriae colonizes the pig colon, resulting in mucohemorrhagic diarrhea and growth retardation. Fecal mucus is a characteristic feature of swine dysentery; therefore, we investigated how the mucin environment changes in the colon during infection with B. hyodysenteriae and how these changes affect this bacterium's interaction with mucins. We isolated and characterized mucins, the main component of mucus, from the colon of experimentally inoculated and control pigs and investigated B. hyodysenteriae binding to these mucins. Fluorescence microscopy revealed a massive mucus induction and disorganized mucus structure in the colon of pigs with swine dysentery. Quantitative PCR (qPCR) and antibody detection demonstrated that the mucus composition of pigs with swine dysentery was characterized by de novo expression of MUC5AC and increased expression of MUC2 in the colon. Mucins from the colon of inoculated and control pigs were isolated by two steps of isopycnic density gradient centrifugation. The mucin densities of control and inoculated pigs were similar, whereas the mucin quantity was 5-fold higher during infection. The level of B. hyodysenteriae binding to mucins differed between pigs, and there was increased binding to soluble mucins isolated from pigs with swine dysentery. The ability of B. hyodysenteriae to bind, measured in relation to the total mucin contents of mucus in sick versus healthy pigs, increased 7-fold during infection. Together, the results indicate that B. hyodysenteriae binds to carbohydrate structures on the mucins as these differ between individuals. Furthermore, B. hyodysenteriae infection induces changes to the mucus niche which substantially increase the amount of B. hyodysenteriae binding sites in the mucus.