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Open Access Research article

The pathogenicity of Staphylococcus epidermidis on the intestinal organs of rats and mice: an experimental investigation

Ezekiel Olugbenga Akinkunmi1*, Oluwole Isaac Adeyemi2, Oluwatoyin Abimbola Igbeneghu1, Esther Omowunmi Olaniyan2, Abidemi Emmanuel Omonisi3 and Adebayo Lamikanra1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pharmaceutics, Faculty of Pharmacy, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria

2 Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria

3 Department of Morbid Anatomy and Forensic Medicine, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex, Ile-Ife, Nigeria

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BMC Gastroenterology 2014, 14:126  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-14-126

Published: 12 July 2014



Staphylococcus epidermidis is the most frequently isolated species of the coagulase negative staphylococci from human stool. However, it is not clear how its presence in the gut affects the cellular structures and functions of this organ. In this study therefore, the pathogenicity of strains of S. epidermidis which were isolated from the stool samples of apparently healthy children was investigated in mice and rats.


The albino mice (22—30 g) and albino rats (100-155 g) of both sexes were infected orally and intraperitoneally with graded doses of the bacteria and subjected to behavioral and histopathological examinations.


Acute infection in these animals caused temporary behavioural changes as shown by restlessness and abdominal stretchings but did not result in death even at a dosage of 2 × 109 cfu/kg. Daily administration of the same dose for 14 days resulted in the death of 11 out of 21 (52.4%) mice. Histopathological examination of the affected organs showed congestions, aggregations and multinucleated hepatocytes in the liver, infiltration of the kidney tubule interstitial by chronic inflammatory cells, coagulative necrosis of the kidney, spleen, intestine and stomach cells as well as marked stroma fibrosis of the spleen. Coagulative necrosis of cells was the most frequently occurring pathological alteration. Lethality and pathological effects reflected the virulence factors expressed by the organism which are biofilm formation, haemagglutination properties and capsule production.


The results indicate that strains of S. epidermidis colonising the gut can cause serious pathological changes on certain organs such as kidney, liver, intestine, stomach and spleen which, depending on their severity, could be fatal.

Pathogenicity; Enteric infection; Staphylococci; Gastrointestinal tract