Clostridioides difficile toxin A-mediated Caco-2 cell barrier damage was attenuated by insect-derived fractions and corresponded to increased gene transcription of cell junctional and proliferation proteins

Dong, Liyou; Tomassen, Monic M.; Ariëns, Renata M.C.; Oosterink, Els; Wichers, Harry J.; Veldkamp, Teun; Mes, Jurriaan J.; Govers, Coen


Pathogenesis of C. difficile in the intestine is associated with the secretion of toxins which can damage the intestinal epithelial layer and result in diseases such as diarrhoea. Treatment for C. difficile infections consists of antibiotics which, however, have non-specific microbiocidal effects and may cause intestinal dysbiosis which results in subsequent health issues. Therefore, alternative treatments to C. difficile infections are required. We investigated whether different black soldier fly- and mealworm-derived fractions, after applying the INFOGEST digestion protocol, could counteract C. difficile toxin A-mediated barrier damage of small intestinal Caco-2 cells. Treatment and pre-treatment with insect-derived fractions significantly (p < 0.05) mitigated the decrease of the transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) of Caco-2 cells induced by C. difficile toxin A. In relation to these effects, RNA sequencing data showed an increased transcription of cell junctional and proliferation protein genes in Caco-2 cells. Furthermore, the transcription of genes regulating immune signalling was also increased. To identify whether this resulted in immune activation we used a Caco-2/THP-1 co-culture model where the cells were only separated by a permeable membrane. However, the insect-derived fractions did not change the basolateral secreted IL-8 levels in this model. To conclude, our findings suggest that black soldier fly- and mealworm-derived fractions can attenuate C. difficile induced intestinal barrier disruption and they might be promising tools to reduce the symptoms of C. difficile infections.