© 2016 Ajjampur et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Blastocystis spp. are widely prevalent extra cellular, non-motile anerobic protists that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract. Although Blastocystis spp. have been associated with gastrointestinal symptoms, irritable bowel syndrome and urticaria, their clinical significance has remained controversial. We established an ex vivo mouse explant model to characterize adhesion in the context of tissue architecture and presence of the mucin layer. Using confocal microscopy with tissue whole mounts and two axenic isolates of Blastocystis spp., subtype 7 with notable differences in adhesion to intestinal epithelial cells (IEC), isolate B (ST7-B) and isolate H (more adhesive, ST7-H), we showed that adhesion is both isolate dependent and tissue trophic. The more adhesive isolate, ST7-H was found to bind preferentially to the colon tissue than caecum and terminal ileum. Both isolates were also found to have mucinolytic effects. We then adapted a DSS colitis mouse model as a susceptible model to study colonization and acute infection by intra-caecal inoculation of trophic Blastocystis spp.cells. We found that the more adhesive isolate ST7-H was also a better colonizer with more mice shedding parasites and for a longer duration than ST7-B. Adhesion and colonization was also associated with increased virulence as ST7-H infected mice showed greater tissue damage than ST7-B. Both the ex vivo and in vivo models used in this study showed that Blastocystis spp. remain luminal and predominantly associated with mucin. This was further confirmed using colonic loop experiments. We were also successfully able to re-infect a second batch of mice with ST7-H isolates obtained from fecal cultures and demonstrated similar histopathological findings and tissue damage thereby coming closer to proving Koch's postulates for this parasite.
Ajjampur, S. S. R., Png, C. W., Chia, W. N., Zhang, Y., & Tan, K. S. W. (2016). Ex vivo and in vivo mice models to study blastocystis spp. adhesion, colonization and pathology: Closer to proving koch’s postulates. PLoS ONE, 11(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0160458