Differential Response to the Course of Cryptosporidium parvum Infection and Its Impact on Epithelial Integrity in Differentiated versus Undifferentiated Human Intestinal Enteroids

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Publication Title

Infection and Immunity








Cryptosporidium is a leading cause of diarrhea and death in young children and untreated AIDS patients and causes waterborne outbreaks. Pathogenic mechanisms underlying diarrhea and intestinal dysfunction are poorly understood. We previously developed stem-cell derived human intestinal enteroid (HIE) models for Cryptosporidium parvum which we used in this study to investigate the course of infection and its effect on intestinal epithelial integrity. By immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy, there was robust infection of undifferentiated and differentiated HIEs in two and three-dimensional (2D, 3D) models. Infection of differentiated HIEs in the 2D model was greater than that of undifferentiated HIEs but lasted only for 3 days, whereas infection persisted for 21 days and resulted in completion of the life cycle in undifferentiated HIEs. Infection of undifferentiated HIE monolayers suggest that C. parvum infects LGR51 stem cells. Transepithelial electrical resistance measurement of HIEs in the 2D model revealed that infection resulted in decreased epithelial integrity which persisted in differentiated HIEs but recovered in undifferentiated HIEs. Compromised epithelial integrity was reflected in disorganization of the tight and adherens junctions as visualized using the markers ZO-1 and E-cadherin, respectively. Quantitation using the image analysis tools Tight Junction Organizational Rate and Intercellular Junction Organization Quantification, measurement of monolayer height, and RNA transcripts of both proteins by quantitative reverse transcription PCR confirmed that disruption persisted in differentiated HIEs but recovered in undifferentiated HIEs. These models, which more accurately recapitulate human infection, will be useful tools to dissect pathogenic mechanisms underlying diarrhea and intestinal dysfunction in cryptosporidiosis.

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National Institutes of Health


Cryptosporidium, enteroid, intestinal epithelial integrity


Biological Sciences