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Influence of the viscosity of healthy and diseased human mucins on the motility of Helicobacter pylori

Journal article
Authors C. Su
Médea Padra
M. A. Constantino
Sinan Sharba
A. Thorell
Sara K. Lindén
R. Bansil
Published in Scientific Reports
Volume 8
ISSN 2045-2322
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Language en
Keywords human gastric mucin, sol-gel transition, viscous environments, particle, tracking, human stomach, cell-shape, microrheology, infection, mucus, ph, Science & Technology - Other Topics, audhury tk, 1979, journal of fluid mechanics, v95, p189, bolos c, 1995, gastroenterology, v109, p723
Subject categories Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


We present particle tracking microrheology results on human mucins, isolated from normal surface and gland mucosa and one tumor sample, and examine the motility of Helicobacter pylori in these mucins. At 1.5% concentration human mucin solutions are purely viscous, with viscosity eta (gland mucin) > eta (surface mucin) > eta (tumor mucin). In the presence of motile H. pylori bacteria, particle diffusion is enhanced, with diffusivity D+bac (tumor mucin) > D+bac (gland mucin) > D+bac(surface mucin). The surface and tumor mucin solutions exhibit an elastic response in the presence of bacteria. Taken together these results imply that particle diffusion and active swimming are coupled and impact the rheology of mucin solutions. Both J99 wild type (WT) and its isogenic Delta babA/Delta sabA mutant swam well in broth or PGM solutions. However, the human mucins affected their motility differently, rendering them immotile in certain instances. The distribution of swimming speeds in human mucin solutions was broader with a large fraction of fast swimmers compared to PGM and broth. The bacteria swam fastest in the tumor mucin solution correlating with it having the lowest viscosity of all mucin solutions. Overall, these results suggest that mucins from different tissue locations and disease status differ in their microrheological properties and their effect on H. pylori motility.

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