Propionic Acid Promotes the Virulent Phenotype of Crohn's Disease-Associated Adherent-Invasive Escherichia coli

Michael J. Ormsby, Síle A. Johnson, Nuria Carpena, Lynsey M. Meikle, Robert J. Goldstone, Anne McIntosh, Hannah M. Wessel, Heather E. Hulme, Ceilidh C. McConnachie, James P. R. Connolly, Andrew J. Roe, Conor Hasson, Joseph Boyd, Eamonn Fitzgerald, Konstantinos Gerasimidis, Douglas Morrison, Georgina L. Hold, Richard Hansen, Daniel Walker, David G. E. SmithDaniel M. Wall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
44 Downloads (Pure)


Propionic acid (PA) is a bacterium-derived intestinal antimicrobial and immune modulator used widely in food production and agriculture. Passage of Crohn's disease-associated adherent-invasive Escherichia coli (AIEC) through a murine model, in which intestinal PA levels are increased to mimic the human intestine, leads to the recovery of AIEC with significantly increased virulence. Similar phenotypic changes are observed outside the murine model when AIEC is grown in culture with PA as the sole carbon source; such PA exposure also results in AIEC that persists at 20-fold higher levels in vivo. RNA sequencing identifies an upregulation of genes involved in biofilm formation, stress response, metabolism, membrane integrity, and alternative carbon source utilization. PA exposure also increases virulence in a number of E. coli isolates from Crohn's disease patients. Removal of PA is sufficient to reverse these phenotypic changes. Our data indicate that exposure to PA results in AIEC resistance and increased virulence in its presence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2297-2305.e5
Number of pages15
JournalCell Reports
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2020


  • Crohn's disease
  • adherent-invasive E. coli
  • propionic acid
  • short chain fatty acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Propionic Acid Promotes the Virulent Phenotype of Crohn's Disease-Associated Adherent-Invasive Escherichia coli'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this