The battle of the body: Incredible video shows how the immune system takes on bacterial infection… and wins



14:32 GMT, 2 July 2012

It is one of nature's most fierce battles, in many cases a matter of life and death.

Now for the first time scientists have shown how the immune system fights off a bacterial infection in real-time.

Researchers infected a mouse with a
light-emitting stomach bug and tracked to see where it took hold and how
far it spread through the body before it was eventually killed off.

They discovered that the entire infection cycle took 12 days.


Day 0


The mouse before the infection (left) and on day one (right) where the bacteria is mostly visible in the small intestine

Day 5

Day 6

On day four (left) the bacteria is only visible in the cecum part of the intestine, but the infection is just adapting to the mouse's body. /07/02/article-2167607-13E42226000005DC-279_306x455.jpg” width=”306″ height=”455″ alt=”day 8″ class=”blkBorder” />

day 9

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day 11

On day 10 (left) and day 11 (right) the infection starts to recede

Study leader Professor Frankel, said
the technique was 'revolutionary' and would help scientists develop new strategies in fighting
bacterial infections, which often become resistant to antibiotics.

He added: 'The infection of mice with Citrobacter rodentium is an excellent model to study infection with E. coli 0157 in humans.'

That particular strain of E coli is a
severe and sometime fatal form of infectious gastroenteritis that is
most dangerous to children and the elderly.

The team used the biological imaging centre at Imperial College's new MRC Centre for Molecular Bacteriology and Infection.