Mathematical modeling of the effects of nutrient competition and bile acid metabolism by the gut microbiota on colonization resistance against Clostridium difficile

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


  • Arietta Fleming-Davies
  • Suzanne L. Robertson
  • Tri Sri Noor Asih
  • Cristina Lanzas
  • Suzanne Lenhart
  • Casey M. Theriot

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Department of Biology, Radford University
  • Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Department of Mathematics, Semarang State University
  • College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University
  • Department of Mathematics, University of Tennessee


Clostridium difficile is the leading cause of infectious diarrhea in hospitals
and one of the most common healthcare associated infections. Antibiotics alter
the normal gut microbiota and facilitate the colonization of enteric pathogens such as C. difficile. Our objective is to elucidate the role of bile acids and other mechanisms in providing colonization resistance against C. difficile. We formulated and analyzed differential equation models for microbial interactions in the gut and bile acid dynamics, as well as a combined model including both mechanisms. Our analysis indicates that bile acids do not prevent C. difficile colonization, but they regulate the onset of C. difficile colonization and growth after antibiotic perturbation. These results have implications in the development of novel ways to inhibit C. difficile infection.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWomen in Mathematical Biology
Subtitle of host publicationResearch Collaboration Workshop, NIMBioS, Knoxville, June 2015
EditorsAnita Layton, Lura Miller
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sep 2017

Publication series

NameAssociation for Women in Mathematics Series
ISSN (Print)2364-5733