Colonization resistance: metabolic warfare as a strategy against pathogenic Enterobacteriaceae.


The intestine is home to a large and complex bacterial ecosystem (microbiota), which performs multiple beneficial functions for the host, including immune education, nutrition, and protection against invasion by enteric pathogens (colonization resistance). The host and microbiome symbiotic interactions occur in part through metabolic crosstalk. Thus, microbiota members have evolved highly diverse metabolic pathways to inhibit pathogen colonization via activation of protective immune responses and nutrient acquisition and utilization. Conversely, pathogenic Enterobacteriaceae actively induce an inflammation-dependent disruption of the gut microbial ecosystem (dysbiosis) to gain a competitive metabolic advantage against the resident microbiota. This review discusses the recent findings on the crucial role of microbiota metabolites in colonization resistance regulation. Additionally, we summarize metabolic mechanisms used by pathogenic Enterobacteriaceae to outcompete commensal microbes and cause disease.