Article Text

Translocation of Crohn's disease Escherichia coli across M-cells: contrasting effects of soluble plant fibres and emulsifiers
  1. Carol L Roberts1,
  2. Åsa V Keita2,
  3. Sylvia H Duncan3,
  4. Niamh O'Kennedy4,
  5. Johan D Söderholm2,
  6. Jonathan M Rhodes1,
  7. Barry J Campbell1
  1. 1Gastroenterology Research Unit, School of Clinical Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
  2. 2Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Division of Surgery, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
  3. 3The Microbial Ecology Group, The Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, University of Aberdeen, Bucksburn, UK
  4. 4Provexis Plc, c/o Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Barry J Campbell, Gastroenterology Research Unit, University School of Clinical Sciences, Crown Street, Liverpool L69 3GE, UK; b.j.campbell{at}


Background Crohn's disease is common in developed nations where the typical diet is low in fibre and high in processed food. Primary lesions overlie Peyer's patches and colonic lymphoid follicles where bacterial invasion through M-cells occurs. We have assessed the effect of soluble non-starch polysaccharide (NSP) and food emulsifiers on translocation of Escherichia coli across M-cells.

Methods To assess effects of soluble plant fibres and food emulsifiers on translocation of mucosa-associated E coli isolates from Crohn's disease patients and from non-Crohn's controls, we used M-cell monolayers, generated by co-culture of Caco2-cl1 and Raji B cells, and human Peyer's patches mounted in Ussing chambers.

Results E coli translocation increased across M-cells compared to parent Caco2-cl1 monocultures; 15.8-fold (IQR 6.2–32.0) for Crohn's disease E coli (N=8) and 6.7-fold (IQR 3.7–21.0) for control isolates (N=5). Electron microscopy confirmed E coli within M-cells. Plantain and broccoli NSP markedly reduced E coli translocation across M-cells at 5 mg/ml (range 45.3–82.6% inhibition, p<0.01); apple and leek NSP had no significant effect. Polysorbate-80, 0.01% vol/vol, increased E coli translocation through Caco2-cl1 monolayers 59-fold (p<0.05) and, at higher concentrations, increased translocation across M-cells. Similarly, E coli translocation across human Peyer's patches was reduced 45±7% by soluble plantain NSP (5 mg/ml) and increased 2-fold by polysorbate-80 (0.1% vol/vol).

Conclusions Translocation of E coli across M-cells is reduced by soluble plant fibres, particularly plantain and broccoli, but increased by the emulsifier Polysorbate-80. These effects occur at relevant concentrations and may contribute to the impact of dietary factors on Crohn's disease pathogenesis.

  • Crohn's disease
  • dietary fibre
  • Escherichia coli
  • mucosal immunology
  • M-cell

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  • Funding CLR was supported by the Wellcome Trust 4 year PhD programme in Cellular and Molecular Physiology (074949/Z/04/Z). Further support to BJC and JMR was provided by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Specialist Biomedical Research Centre for Microbial Diseases, Liverpool (01CD1) and the National Association for Colitis & Crohn's disease (M/08/1). Translocation studies using human tissues were funded by a grant to JDS from the Swedish Research Council (VR-M). Other funders: Wellcome Trust; NIHR, MRC, NACC, Swedish Research Council.

  • Competing interests JMR is a past/present member of advisory boards for Procter & Gamble, Schering-Plough, Chiesi, Falk and Celltech. With the University of Liverpool and Provexis Plc (UK), JMR holds a patent for use of a soluble fibre preparation as therapy for Crohn's disease. NO'K is an employee of Provexis Plc.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Regional Human Ethics Committee; Linköping, Sweden.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.