• avian IgY;
  • enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7;
  • passive immunotherapy;
  • polyclonal antibodies


Aim:  To evaluate the potential for polyclonal antibodies targeting enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) virulence determinants to prevent colonization of host cells by E. coli O157:H7.

Methods and Results:  Rats and laying hens were immunized with recombinant proteins from E. coli O157:H7, EspA, C-terminal intimin or EscF. Rat antisera (IgG) or chicken egg powders (IgY) were assessed for their ability to inhibit growth and colonization-associated processes of E. coli O157:H7. Mammalian antisera with antibodies to intimin, EspA or EscF effectively reduced adherence of the pathogen to HeLa cells (< 0·05) and prevented type III secretion of Tir. Similarly, HeLa cells treated with chicken egg powder containing antibodies against intimin or EspA were protected from EHEC adherence (P < 0·05). Neither egg nor rat antibody preparations had any antibacterial effect on the growth of EHEC (> 0·05).

Conclusions:  Antibody preparations targeting EHEC adherence-associated factors were effective at preventing adhesion and intimate colonization-associated events.

Significance and Impact of the Study:  This work indicates that immunotherapy with anti-adherence antibodies can reduce E. coli O157:H7 colonization of host cells. Passive immunization with specific antibodies may have the potential to reduce E. coli O157:H7 colonization in hosts such as cattle or humans.