Year of publication:
Journal title abbreviated:
J. Infect. Dis.
Journal title long:
The Journal of infectious diseases
Spontaneous Clostridium difficile (CD) outbreaks occur in neonatal piglets but the predisposing factors are largely not known. To study the conditions for CD colonisation and infection development, neonatal piglets (n=48) were moved into isolators, fed bovine milk-based formula and infected with CD 078. Analyses included: clinical scoring; faecal CD, toxin B, calprotectin; post-mortem colon histopathology. Controls were non-infected suckling piglets. Faeces from suckling, formula-fed and formula-fed-CD-infected piglets were used for metagenomics. High levels of background CD and toxin were detected in formula-fed piglets prior to infection, while suckling piglets carried about three-fold less CD, and toxin was not detected. Toxin in CD-challenged animals correlated positively with CD and calprotectin. Post-mortem signs of CDI were absent in suckling piglets, whereas mesocolonic oedema and gas-filled distal small intestines and caeca, cellular damages and reduced expression of claudins were associated with animals from the challenge trials. Microbiota in formula-fed piglets was enriched with Escherichia, Shigella, Streptococcus, Enterococcus and Ruminococcus. Formula feeding predisposes to CD colonisation earlier as compared to suckling piglets. The infection with a hypervirulent CD does not aggravate the symptoms. The association between mother and porcine milk during early life may be crucial for the control of CD expansion in piglets.