Motility and Chemotaxis of Helicobacter pylori with Microfluidics

Previously described methods to study the motility of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) in response to chemical gradients (chemotaxis) are subject to limitations such as false positives, long assay times, and low sensitivity. While automated tracking of individual cells within the well-defined environments produced in microfluidic devices has been successfully applied to study other bacteria, the combination has not previously been reported for H. pylori. Steeper concentration gradients established in our microfluidic device help overcomes some difficulties in fitting the model given in, which explains how a given chemoeffector biases the random walk. Results collected for E. coli help validate performance of the microfluidics, data analysis, since chemotaxis in E. coli is well understood.

Main results include application of the above microfluidic and computer model to study H. pylori response to the known attractant urea, and the known repellent bile acid deoxycholic acid. While it has been found that H. pylori growth is inhibited by capsaicin, it was previously unknown whether capsaicin is an attractant, repellent or otherwise impacts behaviour.

Results help to address an apparent conflict between previous in vitro tests, which suggest that capsaicin inhibits H. pylori growth, and epidemiological studies which link higher capsaicin consumption with morbidity. Analysis of the fitted model suggests whether or not the H. pylori chemotactic response adapts to a background concentration. Evidence for adaptation lends support to the hypothesis that CheV are responsible for this behaviour in H. pylori.

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Bionanotechnology Laboratory
Suresh Neethirajan

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University of Guelph
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