Clostridioides difficile is one of the leading causes of antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
Gut microbiota-derived secondary bile acids and commensal Clostridia that carry the bile acid-inducible (bai) operon are associated with protection from C. difficile infection (CDI), although the mechanism is not known.
In this study, we hypothesized that commensal Clostridia are important for providing colonization resistance against C. difficile due to their ability to produce secondary bile acids, as well as potentially competing against C. difficile for similar nutrients.
To test this hypothesis, we examined the abilities of four commensal Clostridia carrying the bai operon (Clostridium scindens VPI 12708, C. scindens ATCC 35704, Clostridium hiranonis, and Clostridium hylemonae) to convert cholate (CA) to deoxycholate (DCA) in vitro, and we determined whether the amount of DCA produced was sufficient to inhibit the growth of a clinically relevant C. difficile strain.
We also investigated the competitive relationships between these commensals and
C. difficile using an in vitro coculture system.
We found that inhibition of C. difficile growth by commensal Clostridia supplemented with CA was strain dependent, correlated with the production of ∼2 mM DCA, and increased the expression of bai operon genes.
We also found that C. difficile was able to outcompete all four commensal Clostridia in an in vitro coculture system. These studies are instrumental in understanding the relationship between commensal Clostridia and C. difficile in the gut, which is vital for designing targeted bacterial therapeutics. Future studies dissecting the regulation of the bai operon in vitro and in vivo and how this affects CDI will be important.
IMPORTANCE : Commensal Clostridia carrying the bai operon, such as C. scindens, have been associated with protection against CDI; however, the mechanism for this protection is unknown. Herein, we show four commensal Clostridia that carry the bai operon and affect C. difficile growth in a strain-dependent manner, with and without the addition of cholate. Inhibition of C. difficile by commensals correlated with the efficient conversion of cholate to deoxycholate, a secondary bile acid that inhibits C. difficile germination, growth, and toxin production.
Competition studies also revealed that C. difficile was able to outcompete the commensals in an in vitro coculture system.
These studies are instrumental in understanding the relationship between commensal Clostridia and C. difficile in the gut, which is vital for designing targeted bacterial therapeutics.