Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 37603558
Link to DOI – 10.1371/journal.ppat.1011600
PLoS Pathog 2023 Aug; 19(8): e1011600
Gut microbial communities protect the host against a variety of major human gastrointestinal pathogens. Bacteriophages (phages) are ubiquitous in nature and frequently ingested via food and drinking water. Moreover, they are an attractive tool for microbiome engineering due to the lack of known serious adverse effects on the host. However, the functional role of phages within the gastrointestinal microbiome remain poorly understood. Here, we investigated the effects of microbiota-directed phages on infection with the human enteric pathogen Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Tm), using a gnotobiotic mouse model (OMM14) for colonization resistance (CR). We show, that phage cocktails targeting Escherichia coli and Enterococcus faecalis acted in a strain-specific manner. They transiently reduced the population density of their respective target before establishing coexistence for up to 9 days. Infection susceptibility to S. Tm was markedly increased at an early time point after challenge with both phage cocktails. Surprisingly, OMM14 mice were also susceptible 7 days after a single phage inoculation, when the targeted bacterial populations were back to pre-phage administration density. Concluding, our work shows that phages that dynamically modulate the density of protective members of the gut microbiota can provide opportunities for invasion of bacterial pathogens, in particular at early time points after phage application. This suggests, that phages targeting protective members of the microbiota may increase the risk for Salmonella infection.