Klebsiella pneumoniae, Escherichia coli, and other members of the Enterobacteriaceae family are common human pathogens that have acquired broad antibiotic resistance, rendering infection by some strains virtually untreatable. Enterobacteriaceae are intestinal residents, but generally represent <1% of the adult colonic microbiota. Antibiotic-mediated destruction of the microbiota enables Enterobacteriaceae to expand to high densities in the colon, markedly increasing the risk of bloodstream invasion, sepsis, and death. Here, we demonstrate that an antibiotic-naive microbiota suppresses growth of antibiotic-resistant clinical isolates of Klebsiella pneumoniae, Escherichia coli, and Proteus mirabilis by acidifying the proximal colon and triggering short chain fatty acid (SCFA)–mediated intracellular acidification. High concentrations of SCFAs and the acidic environment counter the competitive edge that O 2 and NO 3 respiration confer upon Enterobacteriaceae during expansion. Reestablishment of a microbiota that produces SCFAs enhances clearance of Klebsiella pneumoniae, Escherichia coli, and Proteus mirabilis from the intestinal lumen and represents a potential therapeutic approach to enhance clearance of antibiotic-resistant pathogens.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy