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An in vitro culture model to study the dynamics of colonic microbiota in Syrian golden hamsters and their susceptibility to infection with Clostridium difficile

Miezeiewski, M;Schnaufer, T;Muravsky, M;Wang, S;Caro-Aguilar, I;Secore, S;Thiriot, DS;Hsu, C;Rogers, I;DeSantis, T;Kuczynski, J;Probst, AJ;Chehoud, C;Steger, R;Warrington, J;Bodmer, JL;Heinrichs, JH;

Clostridium difficile infections (CDI) are caused by colonization and growth of toxigenic strains of C. difficile in individuals whose intestinal microbiota has been perturbed, in most cases following antimicrobial therapy. Determination of the protective commensal gut community members could inform the development of treatments for CDI. Here, we utilized the lethal enterocolitis model in Syrian golden hamsters to analyze the microbiota disruption and recovery along a 20-day period following a single dose of clindamycin on day 0, inducing in vivo susceptibility to C. difficile infection. To determine susceptibility in vitro, spores of strain VPI 10463 were cultured with and without soluble hamster fecal filtrates and growth was quantified by quantitative PCR and toxin immunoassay. Fecal microbial population changes over time were tracked by 16S ribosomal RNA gene analysis via V4 sequencing and the PhyloChip assay. C. difficile culture growth and toxin production were inhibited by the presence of fecal extracts from untreated hamsters but not extracts collected 5 days post-administration of clindamycin. In vitro inhibition was re-established by day 15, which correlated with resistance of animals to lethal challenge. A substantial fecal microbiota shift in hamsters treated with antibiotics was observed, marked by significant changes across multiple phyla including Bacteroidetes and Proteobacteria. An incomplete return towards the baseline microbiome occurred by day 15 correlating with the inhibition of C. difficile growth in vitro and in vivo. These data suggest that soluble factors produced by the gut microbiota may be responsible for the suppression of C. difficile growth and toxin production.