Tumor-specific colonization, tissue distribution, and gene induction by probiotic Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 in live mice

Int J Med Microbiol. 2007 Jun;297(3):151-62. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmm.2007.01.008. Epub 2007 Apr 19.


Systemic administration of microorganisms into tumor-bearing mice revealed preferential accumulation in tumors in comparison to clearance in organs such as spleen and liver. Here we compared the efficiency of tumor-specific colonization of pathogenic Salmonella typhimurium strains 14028 and SL1344 to the enteroinvasive Escherichia coli 4608-58 strain and to the attenuated Salmonella flexneri 2a SC602 strain, as well as to the uropathogenic E. coli CFT073, the non-pathogenic E. coli Top10, and the probiotic E. coli Nissle 1917 strain. All strains colonized and replicated in tumors efficiently each resulting in more than 1 x 10(8) colony-forming units per gram tumor tissue. Colonization of spleen and liver were significantly lower when E. coli strains were used in comparison to S. typhimurium and the non-pathogenic strains did not colonize those organs at all. Further investigation of E. coli Nissle 1917 showed that no drastic differences in colonization and amplification were seen when immunocompetent and immunocompromised animals were used, and we were able to show that E. coli Nissle 1917 replicates at the border of live and necrotic tumor tissue. We also demonstrated exogenously applied L-arabinose-dependent gene activation in colonized tumors in live mice. These findings will prepare the way for bacterium-mediated controlled protein delivery to solid tumors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arabinose / biosynthesis
  • Arabinose / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / microbiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / microbiology
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / therapy*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Escherichia coli* / growth & development
  • Escherichia coli* / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression*
  • Genetic Vectors / physiology
  • Liver / microbiology
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / microbiology
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / therapy*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Probiotics
  • Recombinant Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Salmonella typhimurium / growth & development
  • Shigella flexneri / growth & development
  • Species Specificity
  • Spleen / microbiology


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Arabinose