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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Effects of purified Clostridium difficile toxin A on rabbit distal colon.

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Antibiotic-associated pseudomembranous colitis in humans is caused by proliferation of Clostridium difficile, which elaborates an enterotoxin toxin A that causes epithelial damage and altered motility in rabbit small intestine. The aim of this study was to assess the effects of toxin A on rabbit distal colonic motility and to relate this to histological damage and inflammatory mediator production. METHODS: Two hundred micrograms per milliliter of toxin A was placed in a distal colonic loop in anesthetized rabbits, and myoelectric activity was recorded for the following 7 hours. The colon was histologically evaluated and assayed for eicosanoid production. The effects of toxin A on longitudinal and circular muscle were also assessed in vitro. RESULTS: Beginning 1 hour after instillation, toxin A caused a significant increase in the number of spike bursts without altering slow wave frequency; this was associated with an increase in mucosal neutrophils and increased production of prostaglandin E2 and leukotrienes B4 and C4/D4/E4. Seven hours after administration of toxin A, mediator levels and myoelectric activity remained increased but significant mucosal damage was now also present. Toxin A did not affect longitudinal or circular muscle in vitro. CONCLUSIONS: C. difficile toxin A caused a significant neutrophil infiltration and an increased myoelectric activity before producing mucosal damage. The myoelectric effect may be indirect, resulting from the production of motility-altering arachidonic acid metabolites.[1]


  1. Effects of purified Clostridium difficile toxin A on rabbit distal colon. Burakoff, R., Zhao, L., Celifarco, A.J., Rose, K.L., Donovan, V., Pothoulakis, C., Percy, W.H. Gastroenterology (1995) [Pubmed]
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