Purpose of review: There have been considerable advances in our understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli and enterohemorrhagic E. coli infection. Given the difficulty of infecting laboratory mice with these diarrhea-causing pathogens, a growing number of studies have found the murine bacterial pathogen Citrobacter rodentium to provide a robust, relevant in-vivo model system.
Recent findings: All inbred strains and outbred stocks of laboratory mice studied to date have been found to be susceptible to C. rodentium infection. The natural course of disease ranges from subclinical epithelial hyperplasia in the colon, to clinical diarrhea and colitis, to fatal infection, depending on the age, genetic background, and health status of the host. Infection is self-limiting, leading to disease resolution and protective immunity. Here we review recent discoveries related to bacterial virulence determinants, epithelial hyperplasia, innate and adaptive immune responses, and mechanisms of diarrhea.
Summary: Infection of laboratory mice with C. rodentium provides a useful in-vivo model for studying the pathogenesis of infectious gastroenteritis and acute diarrheal illness, and for preclinical evaluation of candidate preventive and therapeutic agents.