The environmental factors that influence the ability of Escherichia coli O157:H7 to attach to the intestinal mucosa are incompletely understood. In the present study, the ability of one of the most common biogenic amines present in food, tyramine, to influence the ability of E. coli O157:H7 to adhere to murine cecal mucosa was examined. Ex vivo full-thickness sheets of murine cecum were mounted in Ussing chambers, which preserved the enteric nervous system innervation of the luminal epithelia and thereby allowed us to achieve a closer approximation of bacterial adherence than would be encountered in vivo. After exposure of the luminal aspect of the cecum to tyramine, E. coli O157:H7 was added for 90 min. The cecal tissue was then removed and washed, and adhered E. coli O157:H7 was enumerated using a selective medium. Tyramine significantly increased E. coli O157:H7 adherence to cecal mucosa when compared to that of controls. The 50% effective concentration of tyramine was 92.6 μM. Specific adrenergic antagonists were then employed to examine whether the effect of tyramine was mediated through α- or β-adrenergic receptors on the intestinal tissue. Pretreatment of tissues with either the α-adrenergic receptor antagonist phentolamine or the β-adrenergic receptor antagonist propranolol prevented the action of tyramine. Measurement of active transepithelial ion transport and ionic permeability in the cecal sheets before and after the addition of tyramine and E. coli O157:H7 did not show any impairment of tissue viability or transepithelial conductance. Further, tyramine did not influence either the growth of E. coli O157:H7 or the expression of the intimin attachment factor. The present findings suggest that biogenic amines, such as tyramine, present within the food matrix influence host susceptibility to E. coli O157: H7 infection.

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