The epithelial barrier is the frontline defense against enteropathogenic bacteria and nutrition-linked xenobiotic stressors in the alimentary tract. In particular, enteropathogenic Escherichia coli
(EPEC) insults the gut barrier and is increasingly implicated in chronic intestinal diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease. For the efficient development of intervention against barrier-linked distress, the present study provided a Caenorhabditis elegans
-based assessment instead of extensive preclinical evaluations using mammalian models. In particular, EPEC infected the gut and shortened the lifespan of C. elegans
, which was counteracted by colonization of E. coli
strain Nissle 1917 (EcN). In addition to the competitive actions of EcN against EPEC, EcN improved the gut barrier integrity of worms via the Zonula occludens ortholog (Zoo-1) induction, which was verified in the murine infection and colitis model. The worm-based assessment provided a crucial methodology and important insights into the potent chronic events in the human gut barrier after the ingestion of probiotic candidates as a mucoactive dietary or therapeutic agent.
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