Within-host spatiotemporal dynamics of systemic Salmonella infection during and after antimicrobial treatment

28 Jul 2017

$\textbf{Objectives:}$ We determined the interactions between efficacy of antibiotic treatment, pathogen growth rates and between-organ spread during systemic $\textit{Salmonella}$ infections. $\textbf{Methods:}$ We infected mice with isogenic molecularly tagged subpopulations of either a fast-growing WT or a slow-growing $\Delta$$\textit{aroC Salmonella}$ strain. We monitored viable bacterial numbers and fluctuations in the proportions of each bacterial subpopulation in spleen, liver, blood and mesenteric lymph nodes (MLNs) before, during and after the cessation of treatment with ampicillin and ciprofloxacin. $\textbf{Results:}$ Both antimicrobials induced a reduction in viable bacterial numbers in the spleen, liver and blood. This reduction was biphasic in infections with fast-growing bacteria, with a rapid initial reduction followed by a phase of lower effect. Conversely, a slow and gradual reduction of the bacterial load was seen in infections with the slow-growing strain, indicating a positive correlation between bacterial net growth rates and the efficacy of ampicillin and ciprofloxacin. The viable numbers of either bacterial strain remained constant in MLNs throughout the treatment with a relapse of the infection with WT bacteria occurring after cessation of the treatment. The frequency of each tagged bacterial subpopulation was similar in the spleen and liver, but different from that of the MLNs before, during and after treatment. $\textbf{Conclusions:}$ In $\textit{Salmonella}$ infections, bacterial growth rates correlate with treatment efficacy. MLNs are a site with a bacterial population structure different to those of the spleen and liver and where the total viable bacterial load remains largely unaffected by antimicrobials, but can resume growth after cessation of treatment.