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Experimental Infection of Conventional Neonatal Pigs with Clostridium difficile: A New Model

13 March 2013

Researchers at Iowa State University have successfully developed a model to reproduce Clostridium difficile-associated disease (CDAD) in pigs, which they believe could be adapted for in-vivo studies of human strains of the bacterium.

In the latest issue of Journal of Swine Health and Production, Joshua T. Lizer and colleagues at Iowa State University describe their study to reproduce Clostridium difficile-associated disease (CDAD) using conventional pigs as an animal model.

Nineteen conventional piglets, removed from the sow immediately as they were being born, were enrolled in the study. Neonatal pigs were given pooled colostrum and then transported to a research facility. At approximately four hours old, 13 pigs randomly assigned to treatment groups were each oro-gastrically inoculated with one of two different swine-origin C.difficile field isolates, and six control pigs were sham-inoculated. All pigs were individually housed and randomly assigned to necropsy at 24, 48 or 72 hours post infection.

Commonly observed lesions and indications of CDAD, including mesocolonic oedema, toxin detection, diarrhoea, neutrophilic infiltration of the colonic and caecal lamina propria and mucosal ulceration or erosion of the colon and caecum, were observed in challenged pigs.

Lizer and colleague concluded that data generated in this study provides evidence that this has potential to be an effective challenge model for CDAD. Possible uses for this model include studies of disease pathogenesis and intervention strategies. The described model can be adapted for in-vivo studies of human-origin C.difficile strains and therapies intended for use in human medicine.


Lizer J.T., Madson D.M., Schwartz K.J. Harris, H., Bosworth, B.T., Kinyon, J.M. and Ramirez A. 2013. Experimental infection of conventional neonatal pigs with Clostridium difficile: A new model. J Swine Health Prod. 21(1):22–29.

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March 2013

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