Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Salmonella bacteria 'changes the gut' Edinburgh scientists discover

Image caption Salmonella can cause diarrhoea, fever and even death in young children

Edinburgh scientists have gained fresh insights into how the salmonella bug makes people ill.

Edinburgh University researchers have found the bacteria are able to change key cells that line the intestine, enabling the bugs to thrive.

By changing the make-up of the cells, the salmonella bacteria are able to cross the gut wall and infect organs, such as the kidneys and the liver.

Salmonella food poisoning can be caused by eating undercooked poultry or eggs.

It can lead to diarrhoea, fever and even death in young children.

Scientists said the study furthers their understanding of how bacterial infections occur and what enables them to spread.

Suits habitat

The team at Edinburgh University found the salmonella released a protein, SopB, changing the make-up of certain cells that line the gut.

This causes a big increase in cells called microfold or M cells.

The research, published in Cell Host and Microbe, reveals how once the salmonella produces large number of the cells it can then get through into the bloodstream, causing infection.

Dr Arvind Mahajan, from The Roslin Institute at Edinburgh University, said: "Bacteria have evolved sophisticated strategies to interact with and infect the host.

"This highlights yet another way in which microbes are able to transform cells into a type that suits their habitat."

The study was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

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