Arun Bhunia, a professor of food science; Mary Anne Amalaradjou, a Purdue postdoctoral researcher; and Ok Kyung Koo, a former Purdue doctoral student, found that the same Listeria protein that allows the bacteria to pass through intestinal cells and into bloodstreams can help block those same paths when added to a probiotic.
"Based on the research, it looks very promising that we would get a significant reduction in Listeria infections," said Bhunia, whose findings were published this month in the journal PLoS One.
Bhunia's earlier work showed that Listeria triggers intestinal cells to express heat shock protein 60 on their surfaces. That allows Listeria to bind to the intestinal cells using an adhesion protein and pass into them, acting as a sort of gateway to the bloodstream.
Once in the bloodstream, even small doses of Listeria can cause fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea, as well as headaches, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions if it spreads to the nervous system. It can also cause abortion and stillbirth in pregnant women.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it sickens about 1,500 and kills 255 people each year in the United States and primarily affects pregnant women, newborns, older adults and those with weakened immune systems.
"We're seeing fewer Listeria infections, but the severity of those infections is still high," Amalaradjou said.
The researchers found that probiotics alone were ineffective in combatting Listeria, so they stole a trick from the bacteria's own playbook. By adding the Listeria adhesion protein to the probiotic Lactobacillus paracasei, they were able to decrease the number of Listeria cells that passed through intestinal cells by 46 percent, a significant decrease in the amount of the bacteria that could infect a susceptible person.
With the adhesion protein, Lactobacillus paracasei interacts with heat shock protein on the surface of intestinal cells just as Listeria would. The probiotic then attached to the intestinal cells, crowding out Listeria.
"It's creating a competition," Bhunia said. "If Listeria comes in, it doesn't find a place to attach or invade."
Bhunia said he could one day foresee the development of a pill or probiotic drink that could be given to at-risk patients to minimize the risk of Listeria infection.
The results came from tests on human intestinal cells. The next step would be animal testing. Bhunia said that would allow him to see whether different doses would have a greater effect.
Bhunia used funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in previous work on Listeria, but the current study was internally funded.Writer: Brian Wallheimer, 765-496-2050, email@example.com
Brian Wallheimer | EurekAlert!
Spanish scientists create a 3-D bioprinter to print human skin
24.01.2017 | Carlos III University of Madrid
Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis
23.01.2017 | Massachusetts General Hospital
A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.01.2017 | Life Sciences
24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine