Sickness-induced anorexia is a conserved behavior induced during infections. Here, we report that an intestinal pathogen, Salmonella Typhimurium, inhibits anorexia by manipulating the gut-brain axis. Inhibition of inflammasome activation by the S. Typhimurium effector, SlrP, prevented anorexia caused by IL-1β-mediated signaling to the hypothalamus via the vagus nerve. Rather than compromising host defenses, pathogen-mediated inhibition of anorexia increased host survival. SlrP-mediated inhibition of anorexia prevented invasion and systemic infection by wild-type S. Typhimurium, reducing virulence while increasing transmission to new hosts, suggesting that there are trade-offs between transmission and virulence. These results clarify the complex and contextual role of anorexia in host-pathogen interactions and suggest that microbes have evolved mechanisms to modulate sickness-induced behaviors to promote health of their host and their transmission at the expense of virulence.
Keywords: IL-1β; Salmonella; Vagus nerve; inflammasome; pathogen transmission; sickness-induced anorexia; virulence.
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