Source attribution studies report that the consumption of contaminated poultry is the primary source for acquiring human campylobacteriosis. Oral administration of an engineered Escherichia coli strain expressing the Campylobacter jejuni N-glycan reduces bacterial colonization in specific-pathogen-free leghorn chickens, but only a fraction of birds respond to vaccination. Optimization of the vaccine for commercial broiler chickens has great potential to prevent the entry of the pathogen into the food chain. Here, we tested the same vaccination approach in broiler chickens and observed similar efficacies in pathogen load reduction, stimulation of the host IgY response, the lack of C. jejuni resistance development, uniformity in microbial gut composition, and the bimodal response to treatment. Gut microbiota analysis of leghorn and broiler vaccine responders identified one member of Clostridiales cluster XIVa, Anaerosporobacter mobilis, that was significantly more abundant in responder birds. In broiler chickens, coadministration of the live vaccine with A. mobilis or Lactobacillus reuteri, a commonly used probiotic, resulted in increased vaccine efficacy, antibody responses, and weight gain. To investigate whether the responder-nonresponder effect was due to the selection of a C. jejuni "supercolonizer mutant" with altered phase-variable genes, we analyzed all poly(G)-containing loci of the input strain compared to nonresponder colony isolates and found no evidence of phase state selection. However, untargeted nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)-based metabolomics identified a potential biomarker negatively correlated with C. jejuni colonization levels that is possibly linked to increased microbial diversity in this subgroup. The comprehensive methods used to examine the bimodality of the vaccine response provide several opportunities to improve the C. jejuni vaccine and the efficacy of any vaccination strategy.IMPORTANCE Campylobacter jejuni is a common cause of human diarrheal disease worldwide and is listed by the World Health Organization as a high-priority pathogen. C. jejuni infection typically occurs through the ingestion of contaminated chicken meat, so many efforts are targeted at reducing C. jejuni levels at the source. We previously developed a vaccine that reduces C. jejuni levels in egg-laying chickens. In this study, we improved vaccine performance in meat birds by supplementing the vaccine with probiotics. In addition, we demonstrated that C. jejuni colonization levels in chickens are negatively correlated with the abundance of clostridia, another group of common gut microbes. We describe new methods for vaccine optimization that will assist in improving the C. jejuni vaccine and other vaccines under development.
Keywords: Campylobacter; glycoengineering; metabolomics; poultry; probiotics; vaccine.
Copyright © 2017 American Society for Microbiology.