Caister Academic Press

Escherichia coli: More Than A Pathogen?

Maïwenn Olier
from: Probiotics and Prebiotics: Current Research and Future Trends (Edited by: Koen Venema and Ana Paula do Carmo). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2015) Pages: 135-152.


Escherichia coli is well recognized by the wider public for its ability to cause from self-limiting to life-threatening intestinal and extra-intestinal illnesses. E. coli infections remain actually, and primarily, a global public health concern both in developed and developing countries, explaining, at first glance and understandably, the negative connotation associated with this bacterium. Consequently, E. coli employment for therapeutic purpose may be considered as an aberrant concept. We ought however to keep in mind that E. coli is not only a pathogen. Originally isolated from neonatal stools, characterized and named Bacterium coli commune by Theodor Escherich (1884, reprinted in (Escherich, 1988)), E. coli represents the predominant facultative anaerobic resident of our gut microbiota, where it behaves, at first sight, commensally. Nevertheless, clinical and preclinical beneficial effects of certain E. coli strains on the host, i.e. the probiotic E. coli strains, have also been demonstrated and they are reviewed herein. This chapter summarizes current advances in understanding geno- and phenotypic features that allow to discern the pathogen from the commensal or the probiotic E. coli. Findings in this field highlighted how complex it sometimes is to establish a clear border between probiotic and pathogenic features within E. coli populations. Consequently, ready-made guidelines for the use of probiotic E. coli strains by practicing physicians are still lacking read more ...
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