Stalling salmonella

Varying levels of a naturally occurring molecule that slows the spread of Salmonella could explain why the pathogen doesn’t sicken everyone.

A molecule called propionate slows the spread of salmonella poisoning in mice, a Stanford study showed, offering promise for new treatments.

Different levels of the naturally occurring molecule could explain why some people who ingest the foodborne pathogen don’t get sick.

Salmonella brings on diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. It causes about 1.2 million illnesses and 450 deaths in the United States a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It has been a real mystery to understand why we see these differences among people,” said Denise Monack, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology and the senior author of the study of how gut variability might contribute to responses, published July 26 in Cell Host and Microbe.

“Our finding may shed some light on this phenomenon.”