Siderophore Immunization Restricted Colonization of Adherent-Invasive Escherichia coli and Ameliorated Experimental Colitis

Romana R. Gerner, Suzana Hossain, Artur Sargun, Kareem Siada, Grant J. Norton, Tengfei Zheng, Wilma Neumann, Sean Paul Nuccio, Elizabeth M. Nolan, Manuela Raffatellu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are characterized by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and profound alterations to the gut microbiome. Adherent-invasive Escherichia coli (AIEC) is a mucosa-associated pathobiont that colonizes the gut of patients with Crohn’s disease, a form of IBD. Because AIEC exacerbates gut inflammation, strategies to reduce the AIEC bloom during colitis are highly desirable. To thrive in the inflamed gut, Enterobacteriaceae acquire the essential metal nutrient iron by producing and releasing siderophores. Here, we implemented an immunization-based strategy to target the siderophores enterobactin and its glucosylated derivative salmochelin to reduce the AIEC bloom in the inflamed gut. Using chemical (dextran sulfate sodium) and genetic (Il102/2 mice) IBD mouse models, we showed that immunization with enterobactin conjugated to the mucosal adjuvant cholera toxin subunit B potently elicited mucosal and serum antibodies against these siderophores. Siderophore-immunized mice exhibited lower AIEC gut colonization, diminished AIEC association with the gut mucosa, and reduced colitis severity. Moreover, Peyer’s patches and the colonic lamina propria harbored enterobactin-specific B cells that could be identified by flow cytometry. The beneficial effect of siderophore immunization was primarily B cell-dependent because immunized muMT2/2 mice, which lack mature B lymphocytes, were not protected during AIEC infection. Collectively, our study identified siderophores as a potential therapeutic target to reduce AIEC colonization and its association with the gut mucosa, which ultimately may reduce colitis exacerbation. Moreover, this work provides the foundation for developing monoclonal antibodies against siderophores, which could provide a narrow-spectrum strategy to target the AIEC bloom in Crohn’s disease patients.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Escherichia coli
  • gut inflammation
  • immunization
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • iron utilization
  • mucosal immunity
  • siderophores


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