Breathing life into pathogens: the influence of oxygen on bacterial virulence and host responses in the gastrointestinal tract

Cell Microbiol. 2011 Feb;13(2):171-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-5822.2010.01549.x. Epub 2010 Dec 19.


The gastrointestinal tract provides a variety of environmental challenges to any bacterium seeking to successfully colonize or cause disease in a host. A major obstacle is the varied oxygen concentrations encountered at different sites in the intestine. Here we review the mechanisms bacterial pathogens utilize to sense oxygen within the gastrointestinal tract, and recent insights into how this acts as a signal to trigger virulence and to modulate host responses.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / immunology*
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / immunology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Immune Evasion
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Virulence
  • Virulence Factors / metabolism*


  • Virulence Factors
  • Oxygen