Potential of phage EF-N13 as an alternative treatment strategy for mastitis infections caused by multidrug-resistant Enterococcus faecalis

Yalu Ji, Zhen Zhao, Qianming Jiang, Juan J. Loor, Liran Song, Hongda Ou, Ming Liu, Changjiang Sun, Xin Feng, Liancheng Lei, Wenyu Han, Xinwei Li, Jingmin Gu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bovine mastitis is the most common and costly disease affecting dairy cattle throughout the world. Enterococcus faecalis is one of the environmental origin mastitis-causing pathogens. The treatment of bovine mastitis is primarily based on antibiotics. Due to the negative impact of developing antibiotic resistance and adverse effects on soil and water environments, the trend toward use of nonantibiotic treatments is increasing. Phages may represent a promising alternative treatment strategy. However, it is unknown whether phages have therapeutic effects on E. faecalis-induced mastitis. Thus, the objective of this study was to investigate the degree of protection conferred by a phage during murine mastitis caused by multidrug-resistant E. faecalis. Enterococcus faecalis was isolated from the milk of dairy cows with mastitis, and a phage was isolated using the E. faecalis isolates as hosts. The bactericidal ability of the phage against E. faecalis and the ability to prevent biofilm formation were determined in vitro. The therapeutic potential of the phage on murine mastitis was evaluated in vivo. We isolated 14 strains of E. faecalis from the milk of cows with mastitis, all of which exhibited multidrug resistance, and most (10/14) could form strong biofilms. Subsequently, a new phage (EF-N13) was isolated using the multidrug-resistant E. faecalis N13 (isolated from mastitic milk) as the host. The phage EF-N13 belongs to the family Myoviridae, which has short latent periods (5 min) and high bursts (284 pfu/cell). The genome of EF-N13 lacked bacterial virulence-, antibiotic resistance-, and lysogenesis-related genes. Furthermore, bacterial loading in the raw milk medium was significantly reduced by EF-N13 and was unaffected by potential IgG antibodies. In fact, EF-N13 could effectively prevent the formation of biofilm by multidrug-resistant E. faecalis. All of these characteristics suggest that EF-N13 has potential as mastitis therapy. In vivo, 1 × 105 cfu/gland of multidrug-resistant E. faecalis N13 resulted in mastitis development within 24 h. A single dose of phage EF-N13 (1 × 104, 1 × 105, or 1 × 106 pfu/gland) could significantly decrease bacterial counts in the mammary gland at 24 h postinfection. Histopathological observations demonstrated that treatment with phage EF-N13 effectively alleviated mammary gland inflammation and damage. This effect was confirmed by the lower levels of proinflammatory cytokines IL-6, IL-1β, and tumor necrosis factor-α in the mammary gland treated with phage EF-N13 compared with those treated with phosphate-buffered saline. Overall, the data underscored the potential of phage EF-N13 as an alternative therapy for bovine mastitis caused by multidrug-resistant E. faecalis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9174-9185
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Enterococcus faecalis
  • biofilm
  • mastitis
  • multidrug-resistant
  • phage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Genetics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


Dive into the research topics of 'Potential of phage EF-N13 as an alternative treatment strategy for mastitis infections caused by multidrug-resistant Enterococcus faecalis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this