Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) and Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) are major food‐ and water‐borne pathogens that constitute a serious public health threat in low‐income and developed countries, respectively. Survival and expression of virulence genes in the human digestive tract are key features in bacterial pathogenesis, but the mechanisms behind these processes remain largely unknown due to obvious prohibition of human studies. Use of well‐controlled and multi‐parametric in vitro models can aid in addressing knowledge gaps in ETEC and EHEC pathogenesis. After a general description of the physiopathology of ETEC and EHEC infections, this chapter will give an overview of all the in vitro studies that have investigated the effect of the main physicochemical and biotic parameters of the human gut on pathogen survival and expression of virulence factors. We bring a picture of how ETEC and EHEC are able to adapt to each of the successive environments of the human gastrointestinal tract by reading many cues provided by both the host and the gut microbiota.
Part of the book: Escherichia coli