Kidney bean lectin-induced Escherichia coli overgrowth in the small intestine is blocked by GNA, a mannose-specific lectin

J Appl Bacteriol. 1993 Oct;75(4):360-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2672.1993.tb02788.x.


The reversible and dose-dependent hyperplastic growth of the small intestine and accelerated epithelial cell turnover caused by feeding rats with diets containing kidney bean lectin (PHA) increased the proportion of immature cells on the villi whose membrane and/or cytoplasm contained mainly simple, polymannosylated glycans. These new alpha-linked mannosyl terminals, particularly of the damaged epithelium, facilitated the preferential adherence of opportunistic Escherichia coli with mannose-sensitive Type 1 fimbriae, and other coliforms, to the glycocalyx. Accordingly, the growth of the gut was accompanied by a reversible and PHA dose-dependent overgrowth with E. coli. As expected from their common carbohydrate specificity, the inclusion in the diet of the mannose-specific agglutinin from snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) bulbs (GNA) significantly reduced the extent of E. coli overgrowth, but abolished neither the growth nor the damage caused by PHA to the small intestine. Thus, GNA and perhaps other mannose-specific lectins, especially when used in a preventive mode, can be used to specifically block the proliferation of Type 1 E. coli in the small intestine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Adhesion / drug effects
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Densitometry
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development*
  • Galanthus
  • Hyperplasia
  • Intestine, Small / drug effects
  • Intestine, Small / microbiology*
  • Intestine, Small / pathology
  • Intestine, Small / ultrastructure
  • Lectins / pharmacology*
  • Microvilli / drug effects
  • Microvilli / microbiology
  • Microvilli / pathology
  • Phytohemagglutinins / adverse effects*
  • Phytohemagglutinins / pharmacology
  • Plant Lectins
  • Rats
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms


  • Lectins
  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • Plant Lectins