Vitamin C alleviates acute enterocolitis in Campylobacter jejuni infected mice
Human foodborne infections with the zoonotic pathogen Campylobacter jejuni are on the rise and constitute a significant socioeconomic burden worldwide. The health-beneficial, particularly anti-inflammatory effects of vitamin C (ascorbate) are well known. In our preclinical intervention study, we assessed potential anti-pathogenic and immunomodulatory effects of ascorbate in C. jejuni-infected secondary abiotic IL-10-/- mice developing acute campylobacteriosis similar to humans. Starting 4 days prior peroral C. jejuni-infection, mice received synthetic ascorbate via the drinking water until the end of the experiment. At day 6 post-infection, ascorbate-treated mice harbored slightly lower colonic pathogen loads and suffered from less severe C. jejuni-induced enterocolitis as compared to placebo control animals. Ascorbate treatment did not only alleviate macroscopic sequelae of infection, but also dampened apoptotic and inflammatory immune cell responses in the intestines that were accompanied by less pronounced pro-inflammatory cytokine secretion. Remarkably, the anti-inflammatory effects of ascorbate pretreatment in C. jejuni-infected mice were not restricted to the intestinal tract but could also be observed in extra-intestinal compartments including liver, kidneys and lungs. In conclusion, due to the potent anti-inflammatory effects observed in the clinical murine C. jejuni-infection model, ascorbate constitutes a promising novel option for prophylaxis and treatment of acute campylobacteriosis.