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J Infect Dis. 2000 May;181(5):1825-9. Epub 2000 May 9.

Escherichia coli O157:H7 strains that express Shiga toxin (Stx) 2 alone are more neurotropic for gnotobiotic piglets than are isotypes producing only Stx1 or both Stx1 and Stx2.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, North Grafton, Massachusetts 01536, USA.


Infection with Escherichia coli O157:H7 can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) in some children. Epidemiologic data suggest that Shiga toxin (Stx) 2-producing strains are more frequently associated with HUS than are Stx1-producing strains. Less clear is whether strains that express Stx2 alone are more frequently associated with HUS than strains that express Stx1 and Stx2. Isogenic mutants 933stx1- and 933stx2- were produced from strain 933 (Stx1 and Stx2 producer), and 86-24stx2- was produced from strain 86-24 (Stx2 producer). Neurologic lesions or symptoms developed in 18 (90%) of 20 gnotobiotic piglets orally infected with strain 86-24, in 15 (85%) of 18 infected with mutant 933stx1-, in 9 (31%) of 29 infected with strain 933, in 0 of 5 infected with mutant 86-24stx2-, and in 0 of 6 infected with mutant 933stx2-. It was concluded that strains expressing Stx2 alone are more neurotropic for piglets when fed orally than are those strains expressing Stx1 and 2, whereas Stx1-producing strains induce only diarrhea. It is also conceivable that strains that produce Stx2 may constitute a significant predictive risk factor for HUS in humans.

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