Measuring the Effects of Bacteria and Chemicals on the Intestinal Permeability of Caenorhabditis elegans

This article has been accepted and is currently in production


In living organisms, intestinal hyperpermeability is a serious symptom that leads to many inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs). Caenorhabditis elegans is a nonmammalian animal model that is widely used as an assay system due to its short lifespan, transparency, cost-effectiveness, and lack of animal ethics issues. In this study, a method was developed to investigate the effects of different bacteria and 3,3’-diindolylmethane (DIM) on the intestinal permeability of C. elegans with a high-throughput image analysis system. The worms were infected with different gut bacteria or cotreated with DIM for 48 h and fed with fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-dextran overnight. Then, the intestinal permeability was examined by comparing the fluorescence images and the fluorescence intensity inside the worm bodies. This method may also have the potential to identify probiotic and pathogenic intestinal bacteria that affect intestinal permeability in the animal model and is effective for examining the effects of harmful or health-promoting chemicals on intestinal permeability and intestinal health. However, this protocol also has some considerable limitations at the genetic level, especially for determining which genes are altered to control illness, because this method is mostly used for phenotypic determination. In addition, this method is limited to determining exactly which pathogenic substrates cause inflammation or increase the permeability of the worms’ intestines during infection. Therefore, further in-depth studies, including investigation of the molecular genetic mechanism using mutant bacteria and nematodes as well as chemical component analysis of bacteria, are required to fully evaluate the function of bacteria and chemicals in determining intestinal permeability.