Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is a major public health threat worldwide. The use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is associated with enhanced susceptibility to and severity of CDI; however, the mechanisms driving this phenomenon have not been elucidated. NSAIDs alter prostaglandin (PG) metabolism by inhibiting cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes. Here, we found that treatment with the NSAID indomethacin prior to infection altered the microbiota and dramatically increased mortality and the intestinal pathology associated with CDI in mice. We demonstrated that in C. difficile-infected animals, indomethacin treatment led to PG deregulation, an altered proinflammatory transcriptional and protein profile, and perturbed epithelial cell junctions. These effects were paralleled by increased recruitment of intestinal neutrophils and CD4+ cells and also by a perturbation of the gut microbiota. Together, these data implicate NSAIDs in the disruption of protective COX-mediated PG production during CDI, resulting in altered epithelial integrity and associated immune responses.
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