Virulence behavior of uropathogenic Escherichia coli strains in the host model Caenorhabditis elegans

Emily Schifano, Massimiliano Marazzato, Maria Grazia Ammendolia, Elena Zanni, Marta Ricci, Antonella Comanducci, Paola Goldoni, Maria Pia Conte, Daniela Uccelletti, Catia Longhi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are among the most common bacterial infections in humans. Although a number of bacteria can cause UTIs, most cases are due to infection by uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC). UPEC are a genetically heterogeneous group that exhibit several virulence factors associated with colonization and persistence of bacteria in the urinary tract. Caenorhabditis elegans is a tiny, free-living nematode found worldwide. Because many biological pathways are conserved in C. elegans and humans, the nematode has been increasingly used as a model organism to study virulence mechanisms of microbial infections and innate immunity. The virulence of UPEC strains, characterized for antimicrobial resistance, pathogenicity-related genes associated with virulence and phylogenetic group belonging was evaluated by measuring the survival of C. elegans exposed to pure cultures of these strains. Our results showed that urinary strains can kill the nematode and that the clinical isolate ECP110 was able to efficiently colonize the gut and to inhibit the host oxidative response to infection. Our data support that C. elegans, a free-living nematode found worldwide, could serve as an in vivo model to distinguish, among uropathogenic E. coli, different virulence behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e756
Issue number6
Early online dateOct 31 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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