Escherichia coli (E. coli) infections are very widespread in poultry. However, little is known about the interaction between the intestinal epithelium and E. coli in chickens. Therefore, the effects of avian non-pathogenic and avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) on the intestinal function of broiler chickens were investigated by measuring the electrogenic ion transport across the isolated jejunal mucosa. In addition, the intestinal epithelial responses to cholera toxin, histamine and carbamoylcholine (carbachol) were evaluated following an E. coli exposure. Jejunal tissues from 5-week-old broilers were exposed to 6×10(8) CFU/mL of either avian non-pathogenic E. coli IMT11322 (Ont:H16) or avian pathogenic E. coli IMT4529 (O24:H4) in Ussing chambers and electrophysiological variables were monitored for 1 h. After incubation with E. coli for 1 h, either cholera toxin (1 mg/L), histamine (100 μM) or carbachol (100 μM) were added to the incubation medium. Both strains of avian E. coli (non-pathogenic and pathogenic) reduced epithelial ion conductance (Gt) and short-circuit current (Isc). The decrease in ion conductance after exposure to avian pathogenic E. coli was, at least, partly reversed by the histamine or carbachol treatment. Serosal histamine application produced no significant changes in the Isc in any tissues. Only the uninfected control tissues responded significantly to carbachol with an increase of Isc, while the response to carbachol was blunted to non-significant values in infected tissues. Together, these data may explain why chickens rarely respond to intestinal infections with overt secretory diarrhea. Instead, the immediate response to intestinal E. coli infections appears to be a tightening of the epithelial barrier.
Animals Carbachol/pharmacology Chickens/microbiology* Cholera Toxin/pharmacology Electric Conductivity* Escherichia coli/drug effects Escherichia coli/physiology* Female Histamine/pharmacology In Vitro Techniques Intestinal Mucosa/drug effects Intestinal Mucosa/microbiology* Intestinal Mucosa/physiology* Ion Channel Gating/drug effects Ions Jejunum/drug effects Jejunum/microbiology* Jejunum/physiology* Male Permeability Time Factors