Volume 8, Number 8—August 2002
Hep-2–Adherent Escherichia coli Strains Associated with Acute Infantile Diarrhea, São Paulo, Brazil
Highlight and copy the desired format.
|EID||Scaletsky IC, Fabbricotti SH, Silva SO, Morais MB, Fagundes-Neto U. Hep-2–Adherent Escherichia coli Strains Associated with Acute Infantile Diarrhea, São Paulo, Brazil. Emerg Infect Dis. 2002;8(8):855-858. https://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid0808.010492|
|AMA||Scaletsky IC, Fabbricotti SH, Silva SO, et al. Hep-2–Adherent Escherichia coli Strains Associated with Acute Infantile Diarrhea, São Paulo, Brazil. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2002;8(8):855-858. doi:10.3201/eid0808.010492.|
|APA||Scaletsky, I. C., Fabbricotti, S. H., Silva, S. O., Morais, M. B., & Fagundes-Neto, U. (2002). Hep-2–Adherent Escherichia coli Strains Associated with Acute Infantile Diarrhea, São Paulo, Brazil. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 8(8), 855-858. https://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid0808.010492.|
In this paired case-control study of infants with diarrhea in São Paulo, we examined the association between HEp-2–adherent Escherichia coli strains and diarrhea. We tested isolates from stool specimens of infants with diarrhea and matched controls in an HEp-2 cell adherence assay; we then hybridized isolates with DNA probes and identified enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC), enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC), and diffusely adherent E. coli (DAEC). From 100 patient-control pairs, we isolated 78 HEp-2–adherent strains; of these, 61 strains were single pathogens identified in stools of infants with diarrhea. While typical EPEC was significantly associated with diarrhea (p<0.001), EAEC was more frequently associated with diarrhea in clinical cases (20%) compared with healthy controls (3%) (p<0.001). Atypical EPEC, showing a localized adherence-like pattern, was also more common in patients than controls (p>0.1). DAEC was isolated with equal frequency from patients and controls (p>0.1).
HEp-2–adherent Escherichia coli strains that show localized adherence (LA), aggregative adherence (AA), diffuse adherence (DA), and localized adherence-like (LAL) patterns have been implicated as diarrheal pathogens (1). In a recent study, we reported the association of HEp-2–adherent E. coli strains, particularly those showing LAL pattern with diarrheal stools (2). HEp-2–adherent E. coli strains were also identified as the most important enteric pathotype in a paired case-control study of children with diarrhea <1 year of age in São Paulo, Brazil, from May to August 1985 (3). Enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) strains were most frequently identified (23%); patients and controls did not differ in the rate of isolation of diffusely adhering E. coli (DAEC) (31% and 32%, respectively) or enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC) (10% and 8%, respectively).
The LA shown by typical EPEC is mediated by an inducible bundle-forming pilus, which correlates with the presence of a plasmid designated the EPEC adherence factor (EAF) plasmid (4,5). EPEC strains also cause attaching and effacing lesions on eukaryotic cells that involve a 94-kDa protein encoded by the chromosomal eae gene (6). The pathogenicity of EPEC strains has been demonstrated in human volunteers; the role of these strains in childhood diarrhea was confirmed in epidemiologic studies (1). Atypical EPEC strains do not carry the EAF plasmid and had an LAL pattern.
Two factors, F1845 and AIDA-I, were found to encode DA in DAEC (7,8). Several recent studies have implicated DAEC strains as agents of diarrhea (9,10), while other studies have not recovered DAEC strains more frequently from diarrheal patients than from asymptomatic controls (3,11). This association may be more frequent children >2 years of age (10).
The adherence of many EAEC strains requires the presence of a plasmid with localized genes coding for AA (1); a DNA fragment from an uncharacterized region of this plasmid was described as a specific EAEC probe (12). Epidemiologic studies have implicated EAEC as a cause of diarrhea in children in developing countries, and the pathogenic potential of EAEC in human infections was substantiated by challenge studies (1).
In this study, we revisited the association between HEp-2–adherent strains and infants with diarrhea. We conducted a case-control study on E. coli isolates that were categorized as EPEC, EAEC, and DAEC by adherence tests and DNA probing. Our data suggest that EAEC may be a pathotype that is increasing in incidence as a cause of infantile diarrhea.
At the Hospital São Paulo emergency room, fecal specimens were collected from infants (children <1 year of age) with acute diarrhea lasting <5 days and from individually age-matched control infants who visited the hospital at the same time for other reasons and had not had diarrhea during the previous 30 days; specimens were collected during July – August 1999. We collected patient-control pairs for the study until we had accumulated 100 pairs in which E. coli was detected in stools from both the patient and the control.
E. coli strains were isolated on MacConkey plates. Four separate lactose-fermenting colonies, presumed to be E. coli by colony morphology, and two non-lactose-fermenting colonies of each distinct morphologic type were cultivated in commercial test systems (Probac do Brasil, São Paulo, Brazil) for biochemical confirmation of species or genus. E. coli colonies were subjected to slide agglutination with polyvalent and monovalent antisera (Probac do Brasil) against O antigens of EPEC serogroups and enterohemorrhagic E. coli. We tested the E. coli colonies by adhesion assay and hybridization with DNA probes (Table 1). Salmonella spp., Shigella spp., Campylobacter spp., Yersinia enterocolitica, and rotavirus were detected by standard methods (2).
All E. coli isolates were characterized by the pattern of adherence to HEp-2 cells in the presence of D-mannose, as described by Scaletsky et al. (16). Monolayers were examined after 3 h of incubation. Briefly, monolayers of 105 HEp-2 cells were grown in Dulbecco’s modified Eagle medium (DMEM) (Gibco-BRL, Gaithersburg, MD) containing 10% fetal bovine serum using 24-well plates (Becton, Dickinson and Company, Franklin Lakes, NJ). Bacterial strains were grown in 3 mL of Tryptic Soy Broth (Difco Laboratories, Detroit, MI) for 16 h –18 h at 37°C. Cell monolayers were infected with approximately 3 x 107 bacteria (40 µL of bacterial cultures) added to 1 mL of DMEM and incubated at 37°C for 3 h. The infected monolayers were washed with sterile phosphate-buffered saline, fixed with methanol, stained with May-Grunwald-Giemsa stain, and examined under a microscope. When the adherence pattern was weak or negative, a new preparation was made and examined after a 6-h incubation period.
All E. coli isolates were screened by colony hybridization with DNA probes (Table 1). These probes were labeled by random primer extension kit (Rediprime II DNA Labelling System, Amersham Biosciences, Inc., Piscataway, NJ) with 50 µCi of [α-32P]dCTP. Colony blots were hybridized at 65°C overnight, washed with 0.1X SSC (1X SSC is 0.15 M NaCl plus 0.015 M sodium citrate) – 0.1% sodium dodecyl sulfate, and exposed to X-ray film overnight at -80°C.
Data derived from infants with diarrhea and from control infants were compared by a two-tailed chi-square or Fisher’s exact test.
In total, we tested 402 and 430 E. coli colonies from 100 patients and 100 controls, respectively. We identified HEp-2–adherent strains in stool specimens from 61 infants with diarrhea. These strains were all isolated as the only pathogen; no mixed infections with a HEp-2–adherent strain and another pathogen (including enterotoxigenic E. coli, enteroinvasive E. coli, enterohemorrhagic E. coli, Shigella spp., Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., Y. enterocolitica, and rotavirus) were detected in any of the cases studied. Seventeen of the controls had HEp-2 adherent isolates in their stools (Table 2). Fifty-two of the 61 adherent strains were positive for DNA sequences for EPEC, EAEC, and DAEC strains. None of the nonadherent bacteria from patients or controls were positive in the hybridization assays.
We observed four distinct patterns of adherence: LA occurred when the bacteria attached to localized areas of the HEp-2 cells in culture, forming distinct microcolonies after 3 h of incubation; DA occurred when bacteria adhered to the entire surface of the HEp-2 cells without formation of discrete microcolonies; AA was distinguished by prominent autoagglutination of the bacterial cells to each other on the surface of the cells, as well as those of glass or plastic containers; and LAL pattern, observed only in strains incubated for 6 h, was characterized by the formation of microcolonies or clusters less dense and compact than those displayed by typical LA-positive strains.
E. coli showing an AA pattern was more common in patients (20%) than in controls (3%) (p<0.001) and was detected more frequently than EPEC (17%) in patients. Nineteen (83%) of 23 E. coli isolates with the AA pattern hybridized with the AA probe. Of the EAEC isolates, two from patients belonged to the classic EPEC O serogroup (O44 and O78); one from a control belonged to O126.
Strains with LA were significantly associated with diarrhea (17% vs. 0%; p<0.001). Typical EPEC was analyzed on the basis of eae and EAF-positive probes; all E. coli isolates showing the LA pattern were hybridized with both probes. By using the eae DNA probe, which is specific for atypical EPEC, we found eight strains to be positive. These eight atypical EPEC strains, which showed an LAL pattern, were isolated from six patients (6%) and two controls (2%). Of the 17 typical EPEC isolates, 15 were from classic EPEC O serogroups (4 from O55, 1 from O86, 2 from O111, and 8 from O119). Of the eight atypical EPEC isolates, seven belonged to classic serogroups (one from O26, two from O111, two from O127, and two from O128).
We found a high rate of isolation for E. coli that adhered with a DA pattern; however, rates were similar in patients (18%) and controls (12%). Of the 30 DAEC isolates, 20 hybridized with the daaC probe and none with the AIDA-I probe. Only two isolates belonged to classic serogroups (O15 and O158).
While EPEC has long been considered the dominant E. coli pathogen in São Paulo, an epidemiologic association between EAEC and acute diarrhea has not been found in Brazil until now. LA-positive EPEC has been shown to be associated with infantile diarrhea in several paired case-control studies of children <1 year of age in São Paulo (5,12). In our study, those strains were significantly more often isolated from diarrheal stools (p<0.001), demonstrating that EPEC continues to be an important cause of diarrheal disease in São Paulo. LA production was associated with EPEC O serogroups, as described by other researchers (2,17).
E. coli strains that exhibited AA and were hybridized with the AA probe were strongly associated with enteric diseases in São Paulo. Moreover, the phenotypic and genotypic approaches for the identification of EAEC strains gave almost similar results: 17/20 EAEC strains from children with diarrhea and 2/3 EAEC strains from the control group hybridized with the AA probe. In an epidemiologic study in another region of northeast Brazil, EAEC probe-positive and probe-negative strains were more likely to be associated with persistent diarrhea (18,19). Our results demonstrate that 83% of EAEC strains that were probe positive were associated with diarrhea in infants in São Paulo. We found some AA isolates belonging to the EPEC O serogroups, a finding that has been demonstrated by other authors (1). The present study is the first to show high prevalence of EAEC; in the last 25 years, EPEC strains have been prevalent in Brazil.
The pathogenic role of E. coli showing a DA pattern (DAEC) in the etiology of diarrheal disease is controversial (3,9–11). We found no correlation between DAEC strains and diarrhea; our results agree with those of epidemiologic studies in Australia and France (10,11), namely, that DAEC may be important diarrheal pathogens in children >1 year of age. The daaC probe did not show a good correlation with the DA phenotype in our study.
This study suggests for the first time that EAEC may have become a major etiologic agent of acute diarrhea in São Paulo. Further studies are needed to investigate the pathogenesis of the EAEC strains isolated in this study.
Dr. Scaletsky is a professor of microbiology at the medical school of the University Federal of São Paulo. Her research interests focus on the epidemiology of diarrheogenic Escherichia coli.
This work was supported by Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico and Fundação de Amparo ´a Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo.
- Nataro JP, Kaper JB. Diarrheogenic Escherichia coli. Clin Microbiol Rev. 1998;11:142–201.
- Scaletsky ICA, Pedroso MZ, Oliva CAG, Carvalho RLB, Morais MB, Fagundes-Neto U. A localized adherence-like pattern as a second pattern of adherence of classic enteropathogenic Escherichia coli to HEp-2 cells that is associated with infantile diarrhea. Infect Immun. 1999;67:3410–5.
- Gomes TAT, Blake PA, Trabulsi LR. Prevalence of Escherichia coli strains with localized, diffuse, and aggregative adherence to HeLa cells in infants with diarrhea and matched controls. J Clin Microbiol. 1989;27:266–9.
- Girón JA, Donnenberg MS, Martin WC, Jarvis KG, Kaper JB. Distribution of the bundle-forming pilus structural gene (bfpA) among enteropathogenic Escherichia coli. J Infect Dis. 1993;168:1037–41.
- Nataro JP, Baldini MM, Kaper JB, Black RE, Bravo N, Levine MM. Detection of an adherence factor of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli with a DNA probe. J Infect Dis. 1985;152:560–5.
- Jerse AE, Jun Y, Tall BD, Kaper JB. A genetic locus of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli necessary for the production of attaching and effacing lesions on tissue culture cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990;87:7839–43.
- Bilge SS, Clausen CR, Lau W, Moseley SL. Molecular characterization of a fimbrial adhesin, F1845, mediating diffuse adherence of diarrhea-associated Escherichia coli to HEp-2 cells. J Bacteriol. 1989;171:4281–9.
- Benz I, Schmidt MA. Cloning and expression of an adhesin (AIDA-I) involved in diffuse adherence of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli. Infect Immun. 1989;57:1506–11.
- Girón JA, Jones T, Millan-Velasco F, Castro-Munoz E, Zarate L, Fry J, Diffuse-adhering Escherichia coli (DAEC) as a putative cause of diarrhea in Mayan children in Mexico. J Infect Dis. 1991;163:507–13.
- Germani Y, Begaud E, Duval P, Le Bouguenec C. Prevalence of enteropathogenic, enteroaggregative, and diffusely adherent Escherichia coli among isolates from children with diarrhea in New Caledonia. J Infect Dis. 1996;174:1124–6.
- Gunzburg ST, Chang BJ, Elliot SJ, Burke V, Gracey M. Diffuse and enteroaggregative patterns of adherence of enteric Escherichia coli isolated from aboriginal children from the Kimberley region of Western Australia. J Infect Dis. 1993;167:755–8.
- Baudry B, Savarino SJ, Vial P, Kaper JB, Levine MM. A sensitive and specific DNA probe to identify enteroaggregative E. coli, a recently discovered diarrheal pathogen. J Infect Dis. 1990;161:1249–51.
- Mosely SL, Echeverria P, Seriwatana J, Tirapat C, Chaicumpa W, Sakuldaipeara T, Identification of enterotoxin Escherichia coli by colony hybridization using three enterotoxin gene probes. J Infect Dis. 1982;145:863–9.
- Small PL, Falkow S. Development of a DNA probe for the virulence plasmid of Shigella spp. and enteroinvasive Escherichia coli. In: Leive L, Bonventre PF, Morello JA, Silver SD, Wu WC, editors. Microbiology. Washington: American Society for Microbiology; 1986. p. 121–4.
- Newland JW, Neill RJ. DNA probes for Shiga-like toxins I and II and for toxin-converting bacteriophages. J Clin Microbiol. 1988;26:1292–7.
- Scaletsky ICA, Silva MLM, Trabulsi LR. Distinctive patterns of adherence of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli to Hela cells. Infect Immun. 1984;45:534–6.
- Gomes TAT, Vieira MAM, Wachsmuth IK, Blake PA, Trabulsi LR. Serotype-specific prevalence of Escherichia coli strains with EPEC adherence factor genes in infants with and without diarrhea in São Paulo, Brazil. J Infect Dis. 1989;160:131–5.
- Wanke CA, Shortling JB, Barret LJ, DeSouza MA, Guerrant RL. Potential role of adherence traits of Escherichia coli in persistent diarrhea in an urban Brazilian slum. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 1991;10:746–51.
- Fang GD, Lima AAM, Martins CV, Nataro JP, Guerrant RL. Etiology and epidemiology of persistent diarrhea in northeastern Brazil: a hospital-based, prospective, case-control study. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1995;21:137–44.
- Table 1. DNA probes identifying diarrheogenic Escherichia coli pathotypesa
- Table 2. HEp-2 adherence of Escherichia coli strains isolated from infants with and without diarrhea
Please use the form below to submit correspondence to the authors or contact them at the following address:
Isabel Scaletsky, Departamento de Microbiologia, Imunologia e Parasitologia, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Escola Paulista de Medicina, Rua Botucatu, 862, 04023-062 São Paulo, SP, Brazil; fax: 55716504;
Comment submitted successfully, thank you for your feedback.
The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.
- Page created: July 16, 2010
- Page last updated: July 16, 2010
- Page last reviewed: July 16, 2010
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID)
Office of the Director (OD)