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, firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian Wallheimer | EurekAlert!
Building blocks for new medications: the University of Graz is seeking a technology partner
19.03.2019 | Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz
Scientists find new approach that shows promise for treating cystic fibrosis
14.03.2019 | NIH/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.
A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.
"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...
New research group at the University of Jena combines theory and experiment to demonstrate for the first time certain physical processes in a quantum vacuum
For most people, a vacuum is an empty space. Quantum physics, on the other hand, assumes that even in this lowest-energy state, particles and antiparticles...
Physicists in the EPic Lab at University of Sussex make crucial development in global race to develop a portable atomic clock
Scientists in the Emergent Photonics Lab (EPic Lab) at the University of Sussex have made a breakthrough to a crucial element of an atomic clock - devices...
Every year earthquakes worldwide claim hundreds or even thousands of lives. Forewarning allows people to head for safety and a matter of seconds could spell...
11.03.2019 | Event News
01.03.2019 | Event News
28.02.2019 | Event News
19.03.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
19.03.2019 | Life Sciences
19.03.2019 | Physics and Astronomy