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Adaptations in the physiological heterogeneity and viability of Shigella dysenteriae, Shigella flexneri and Salmonella typhimurium, after exposure to simulated gastric acid fluid

Singh, Atheesha, Barnard, Tobias George
Microbial pathogenesis 2017 v.113 pp. 378-384
Salmonella Typhimurium, Shigella dysenteriae, Shigella flexneri, acidity, bacteria, diarrhea, flow cytometry, gastric acid, humans, inoculum, pH, pathogens, propidium, risk, small intestine, stomach, thiazoles, viability
Stomach acidity is an important barrier of the human body to protect itself from microbial pathogens entering the small intestine and causing infection. This study examined the survival adaptations of non-acid adapted diarrheal Shigella and Salmonella strains in an environment mimicking the human stomach. The bacterial responses to the challenge of acidic simulated gastric fluid were studied using flow cytometry physiological heterogeneity, membrane integrity and survival (culturability) respectively. Flow cytometry showed that bacterial cells, when exposed to gastric fluid, transformed distinctly, into physiologically heterogeneous sub-populations: intact, stressed and damaged cells, when stained with propidium iodide and thiazole orange. Shigella and Salmonella cells became membrane compromised during initial acid shock (0–30 min), and 80% of these cells shifted to the stressed state throughout gastric fluid exposure. Approximately 10–30% of bacterial strains remained culturable after 60 min of gastric fluid exposure at pH 2.5–4.5, with the percentage increasing with an inoculum size of 10² CFU/ml. This ability of non-acid adapted Shigella and Salmonella sp. to adapt and survive low pH gastric fluid, even though the bacterial numbers decreased or changed to a stressed state, further supports the possible risk of infection when consumed.