In vivo commensal control of Clostridioides difficile virulence.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Cell Host Microbe


washington; seattle; isb; Clostridioides difficile; Clostridium sardiniense; Paraclostridium bifermentans; anaerobe metabolism; carbon source enrichment analysis; colitis; conventional mouse; gnotobiotic mouse; metabolomics; metatranscriptomics.


Leveraging systems biology approaches, we illustrate how metabolically distinct species of Clostridia protect against or worsen Clostridioides difficile infection in mice by modulating the pathogen's colonization, growth, and virulence to impact host survival. Gnotobiotic mice colonized with the amino acid fermenter Paraclostridium bifermentans survive infection with reduced disease severity, while mice colonized with the butyrate-producer, Clostridium sardiniense, succumb more rapidly. Systematic in vivo analyses revealed how each commensal alters the gut-nutrient environment to modulate the pathogen's metabolism, gene regulatory networks, and toxin production. Oral administration of P. bifermentans rescues conventional, clindamycin-treated mice from lethal C. difficile infection in a manner similar to that of monocolonized animals, thereby supporting the therapeutic potential of this commensal species. Our findings lay the foundation for mechanistically informed therapies to counter C. difficile disease using systems biology approaches to define host-commensal-pathogen interactions in vivo.

Clinical Institute

Digestive Health


Institute for Systems Biology