Intestinal microbiota promote enteric virus replication and systemic pathogenesis

Science. 2011 Oct 14;334(6053):249-52. doi: 10.1126/science.1211057.


Intestinal bacteria aid host health and limit bacterial pathogen colonization. However, the influence of bacteria on enteric viruses is largely unknown. We depleted the intestinal microbiota of mice with antibiotics before inoculation with poliovirus, an enteric virus. Antibiotic-treated mice were less susceptible to poliovirus disease and supported minimal viral replication in the intestine. Exposure to bacteria or their N-acetylglucosamine-containing surface polysaccharides, including lipopolysaccharide and peptidoglycan, enhanced poliovirus infectivity. We found that poliovirus binds lipopolysaccharide, and exposure of poliovirus to bacteria enhanced host cell association and infection. The pathogenesis of reovirus, an unrelated enteric virus, also was more severe in the presence of intestinal microbes. These results suggest that antibiotic-mediated microbiota depletion diminishes enteric virus infection and that enteric viruses exploit intestinal microbes for replication and transmission.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Feces / virology
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Intestines / virology
  • Lipopolysaccharides / metabolism
  • Mammalian orthoreovirus 3 / physiology*
  • Metagenome*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Poliomyelitis / virology*
  • Poliovirus / metabolism
  • Poliovirus / pathogenicity
  • Poliovirus / physiology*
  • Reoviridae Infections / virology*
  • Virus Replication*
  • Virus Shedding


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Lipopolysaccharides

Associated data

  • GENBANK/JN613288