Specificity of catecholamine-induced growth in Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella enterica and Yersinia enterocolitica

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2007 Apr;269(2):221-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2006.00619.x. Epub 2007 Jan 11.


The present study demonstrates that catecholamine responsiveness in Yersinia enterocolitica, a bacterial pathogen whose infectious spectrum is principally limited to the gut, is limited to norepinephrine and dopamine, and not epinephrine; this behavior contrasts with observations for two pathogens with a wider extra-gastrointestinal spectrum, Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella enterica, which respond to all three catecholamines. Epinephrine showed lower potency than norepinephrine and dopamine in inducing growth of E. coli and S. enterica, and was a potent antagonist of norepinephrine and dopamine growth responsiveness in Y. enterocolitica. Given that only norepinephrine and dopamine and not epinephrine-containing neurons are found with the enteric nervous system, the results suggest that certain of the more exclusive enteric pathogens may have developed response systems preferentially for those neuroendocrine hormones that are produced by the enteric nervous system as host-derived signals by which to sense the environment and initiate pathogenic processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriological Techniques
  • Catecholamines / pharmacology*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Culture Media
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Epinephrine / pharmacology
  • Escherichia coli O157 / drug effects
  • Escherichia coli O157 / growth & development*
  • Humans
  • Salmonella enterica / drug effects
  • Salmonella enterica / growth & development*
  • Species Specificity
  • Yersinia enterocolitica / drug effects
  • Yersinia enterocolitica / growth & development*


  • Catecholamines
  • Culture Media
  • Epinephrine