Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 27351947
PLoS ONE 2016;11(6):e0158204
Clostridium difficile is responsible for a wide spectrum of infection from asymptomatic carriage to severe, relapsing colitis. Since 2003, C. difficile infections have increased with a higher morbidity and mortality due to the emergence of epidemic and hypervirulent C. difficile strains such as those of the epidemic lineage 027/BI/NAP1. To decipher the hypervirulence and epidemicity of 027 strains, we analyzed gene expression profiles of the R20291 027 strain using a monoxenic mouse model during the first 38h of infection. A total of 741 genes were differentially expressed during the course of infection. They are mainly distributed in functional categories involved in host adaptation. Several genes of PTS and ABC transporters were significantly regulated during the infection, underlying the ability of strain R20291 to adapt its metabolism according to nutrient availability in the digestive tract. In this animal model, despite the early sporulation process, sporulation efficiency seems to indicate that growth of R20291 vegetative cells versus spores were favored during infection. The bacterial mechanisms associated to adaptability and flexibility within the gut environment, in addition to the virulence factor expression and antibiotic resistance, should contribute to the epidemicity and hypervirulence of the C. difficile 027 strains.