The effect of enterococci on feline Tritrichomonas foetus infection in vitro.
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Tritrichomonas foetus is a common cause of large bowel diarrhea in cats. Probiotics have been suggested to be effective for many intestinal pathogens; however, there are a lack of studies evaluating the effect of probiotics in T. foetus infection. In vitro studies were performed to evaluate the effect of a probiotic containing Enterococcus faecium (Efm) SF68 and a novel probiotic, Enterococcus hirae, on the inhibition of T. foetus growth, adhesion to, and cytotoxicity towards the intestinal epithelium. The effect of enterococci on T. foetus proliferation during co-culture was evaluated throughout log phase T. foetus growth. The previously validated in vitro co-culture model system using porcine intestinal epithelial cells (IPEC-J2) was used to evaluate the effect of enterococci on T. foetus adhesion and cytotoxicity towards intestinal epithelial cells. Cytotoxicity was assessed using fluorescent microscopy and spectrophotometry. Interactions of T. foetus, enterococci, and intestinal epithelial cells were assessed using scanning electron microscopy and immunofluorescence assays (IFA). Enterococcus-induced inhibition of T. foetus growth was demonstrated at concentrations as low as 104 enterococci colony forming units (CFU)/mL and was dependent, in part, on environmental pH and the presence of viable enterococci organisms. T. foetus adhesion, including with a ronidazole-resistant strain, was reduced with pretreatment of intestinal epithelial cells with enterococci but was not significantly affected when enterococci were introduced simultaneously or following T. foetus infection. Compared to Efm, E. hirae more effectively decreased T. foetus adhesion, suggesting its superior potential as a novel probiotic for T. foetus infection. There was no effect of enterococci treatment on T. foetus-induced intestinal epithelial cell cytotoxicity. Our results support further study into the investigation of a possible benefit of enterococci-containing probiotic treatment for prevention of T. foetus infection in at-risk uninfected cats.