Research Article: Foodborne infection of mice with Salmonella Typhimurium

Date Published: August 8, 2019

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Olof R. Nilsson, Laszlo Kari, Olivia Steele-Mortimer, Daniel E. Voth.


The bacterial pathogen Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium is one of the most common causes of foodborne disease in humans and is also an important model system for bacterial pathogenesis. Oral inoculation of C57Bl/6 mice, which are genetically susceptible to Salmonella, results in systemic infection but the murine intestine is not efficiently colonized unless the intestinal microbiota is disrupted. Pretreatment of C57Bl/6 mice with streptomycin, followed by oral inoculation with Salmonella Typhimurium results in colitis resembling human intestinal Salmonellosis. The predominant method of delivery of bacteria is oral gavage, during which organisms are deposited directly into the stomach via a feeding needle. Although convenient, this method can be stressful for mice, and may lead to unwanted tracheal or systemic introduction of bacteria. Here, we developed a method for oral infection of mice by voluntary consumption of regular mouse chow inoculated with bacteria. Mice readily ate chow fragments containing up to 108 CFU Salmonella, allowing for a wide range of infectious doses. In mice pretreated with streptomycin, infection with inoculated chow resulted in reproducible infections with doses as low as 103 CFU. Mice not treated with streptomycin, as well as resistant Nramp1 reconstituted C57Bl/6J mice, were also readily infected using this method. In summary, voluntary consumption of chow inoculated with Salmonella represents a natural route of infection for foodborne salmonellosis and a viable alternative to oral gavage.

Partial Text

Bacteria belonging to the genus Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica are common causes of foodborne diarrheal disease [1] and a leading cause of death due to foodborne pathogens globally [2] and in the US [3]. Transmission occurs primarily via the fecal-oral route. Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (hereafter Salmonella) is one of the serovars most commonly isolated from human gastrointestinal infections and is one of the most studied human bacterial pathogens. This, combined with its simple growth requirements, has led to its frequent use as a model organism for in vivo studies of the pathogenesis of gastrointestinal infections.