Biofilm formation as a novel phenotypic feature of adherent-invasive Escherichia coli (AIEC)

Crohn's disease (CD) is a high morbidity chronic inflammatory disorder of unknown aetiology. Adherent-invasive Escherichia coli (AIEC) has been recently implicated in the origin and perpetuation of CD. Because bacterial biofilms in the gut mucosa are suspected to play a role in CD and biofilm formation is a feature of certain pathogenic E. coli strains, we compared the biofilmformation capacity of 27 AIEC and 38 non-AIEC strains isolated from the intestinal mucosa. Biofilmformation capacity was then contrasted with the AIEC phenotype, the serotype, the phylotype, andthe presence of virulence genes. Results: Specific biofilm formation (SBF) indices were higher amongst AIEC than non-AIEC strains(P = 0.012). In addition, 65.4% of moderate to strong biofilms producers were AIEC, whereas74.4% of weak biofilm producers were non-AIEC (P = 0.002). These data indicate that AIEC strainswere more efficient biofilm producers than non-AIEC strains. Moreover, adhesion (P = 0.009) andinvasion (P = 0.003) indices correlated positively with higher SBF indices. Additionally, motility(100%, P < 0.001), H1 type flagellin (53.8%, P < 0.001), serogroups O83 (19.2%, P = 0.008) and O22(26.9%, P = 0.001), the presence of virulence genes such as sfa/focDE (38.5%, P = 0.003) and ibeA(26.9%, P = 0.017), and B2 phylotype (80.8%, P < 0.001) were frequent characteristics amongstbiofilm producers.Conclusion: The principal contribution of the present work is the finding that biofilm formationcapacity is a novel, complementary pathogenic feature of the recently described AIEC pathovar. Characterization of AIEC specific genetic determinants, and the regulatory pathways, involved in biofilm formation will likely bring new insights into AIEC pathogenesis ​
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