Gruppe Posthaus

Horst Posthaus
Prof. Horst Posthaus

The focus of our research is the interaction of bacterial pathogens with their natural animal hosts. We are particularly interested in the mechanism of action of bacterial exotoxins on target cells in their natural host species and the translation of basic research findings to the actual situation in affected tissues and whole organisms.

In veterinary medicine, pathogenic clostridia, such as C. botulinum, C. chauvoei, C. perfringens, C. septicum, etc., are the cause of severe and important diseases. The pathogenesis of most of these diseases, especially the toxic principles of the large arsenal of exotoxins produced by these pathogens, is poorly understood. Additionally, comparative aspects of human and animal infections are only rarely investigated. As a genus, clostridia will most likely use common pathogenic mechanisms to induce organ lesions. Research results on one species will most likely be applicable to other species and even different types of clostridia. Therefore, research in this field aims to understand basic mechanisms of host-pathogen interaction and to provide the basis for improved prevention strategies for these important infectious diseases.

We currently focus on the cellular and molecular effects of Clostridium perfringens beta-toxin on target cells from naturally affected hosts. The toxin is known as the essential virulence factor of C. perfringens type C strains, which cause a fatal acute necrotizing enteritis in pigs and other hosts, including humans. Our aim is to translate in vitro research results to the actual disease process occurring in naturally affected animals. Recently, we identified endothelial cells as potential primary targets for this toxin and established a cell culture based in vitro model to investigate cellular responses to beta-toxin. Besides this, we perform studies on the epidemiology and control of C. perfringens type C strains in Swiss pig herds in collaboration with the Porcine Clinic and the Institute of Veterinary Bacteriology. Our research is currently funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) and the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO).

Besides our primary research topic we offer support for research groups at our faculty and outside. As part of our COMPATH platform we provide pathology support for research groups working with domestic animals.



5 ausgewählte Publikationen

  • Roos, S., Wyder, M., Candi, A., Regenscheit, N., Nathues, C., van Immerseel, F., Posthaus, H. (2015) Binding studies on isolated porcine small intestinal mucosa and in vitro toxicity studies reveal lack of effect of C. perfringens beta-toxin on the porcine intestinal epithelium. Toxins (Basel).7(4):1235-52

  • Autheman, D., Wyder, M., Popoff, M., D'Herde, K., Christen, S., and Posthaus, H. (2013). Clostridium perfringens beta-toxin induces necrostatin-inhibitable, calpain-dependent necrosis in primary porcine endothelial cells. PLoS ONE 8, e64644. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0064644

  • Schumacher, V.L., Martel, A., Pasmans, F., Van Immerseel, F., and Posthaus, H. (2013). Endothelial binding of beta toxin to small intestinal mucosal endothelial cells in early stages of experimentally induced Clostridium perfringens type C enteritis in pigs. Veterinary pathology 50, 626-629. doi: 10.1155/2012/642145

  • Gurtner, C., Popescu, F., Wyder, M., Sutter, E., Zeeh, F., Frey, J., von Schubert, C., Posthaus, H., 2010, Rapid Cytopathic Effects of C. perfringens Beta-Toxin on Porcine Endothelial Cells. Infect. Immun. 78, 2966-2973

  • Thiel A, Mogel H, Bruggisser J, Baumann A, Wyder M, Stoffel M.H, Summerfield A, Posthaus H., Effect of Clostridium perfringens β-Toxin on Platelets. Toxins (Basel). 2017 Oct 24;9(10). pii: E336. doi: 10.3390/toxins9100336

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