Sialylation of Campylobacter jejuni lipo-oligosaccharides is associated with severe gastro-enteritis and reactive arthritis
We used various genotyping methods to identify bacterial genetic markers for development of arthritic symptoms following Campylobacter enteritis. We genotyped a collection of population derived Campylobacter strains, with detailed information on clinical characteristics, including arthritic symptoms. Besides using whole genome screening methods, we focused on the lipo-oligosaccharide (LOS) gene locus in which marker genes for developing post-Campylobacter neurological disease are present. Patients with arthritic symptoms were more frequently infected with Campylobacter jejuni strains with a class A LOS locus. We also found that patients who were infected with a C. jejuni strain containing sialic acid-positive LOS (class A, B or C) more frequently had bloody diarrhoea and a longer duration of symptoms. Furthermore, the IgM antibody response against Campylobacter was stronger in patients with a sialic acid containing LOS. Ganglioside auto-antibodies were observed in a small number of patients following infection with a class C strain. We conclude that sialylation of C. jejuni LOS is not only a risk factor for development of post-infectious symptoms, but is also associated with increased severity of enteric disease.