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Clostridium butyricum: from beneficial to a new emerging pathogen.

  • 2016-01
  • Clinical Microbiology and Infection 22(1)
    • N. Cassir
    • S. Benamar
    • B. Scola

Abstract

Clostridium butyricum, a strictly anaerobic spore-forming bacillus, is a common human and animal gut commensal bacterium, and is also frequently found in the environment. Whereas non-toxigenic strains are currently used as probiotics in Asia, other strains have been implicated in pathological conditions, such as botulism in infants or necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm neonates. In terms of the latter, within the same species, different strains have antagonist effects on the intestinal mucosa. In particular, short-chain fatty acids, which are products of carbohydrate fermentation, have a dose-dependent paradoxical effect. Moreover, toxin genes have been identified by genome sequencing in pathological strains. Asymptomatic carriage of these strains has also been reported. Herein, we provide an overview of the implications of C. butyricum for human health, from the beneficial to the pathogenic. We focus on pathogenic strains associated with the occurrence of necrotizing enterocolitis. We also discuss the need to use complementary microbiological methods, including culture, in order to better assess gut bacterial diversity and identify new emergent enteropathogens at the strain level.

Keywords: Clostridium butyricum; culturomics; metagenomics; necrotizing enterocolitis; toxins.

Research Insights

SupplementHealth OutcomeEffect TypeEffect Size
Clostridium butyricumAsymptomatic Carrier StatusNeutral
Small
Clostridium butyricumImproved Gut HealthBeneficial
Moderate
Clostridium butyricumNecrotizing Enterocolitis in Preterm NeonatesHarmful
Large
Clostridium butyricumReduced Incidence of Infant BotulismHarmful
Large
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