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Trends Immunol. 2006 Sep;27(9):434-40. Epub 2006 Jul 24.

Anthrax toxins: A paradigm of bacterial immune suppression.

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Department of Evolutionary Biology, University of Siena, 53100, Siena, Italy.


Several species of microorganism have developed immune evasion and/or immunosuppression strategies. Bacillus anthracis secretes two toxins, edema toxin and lethal toxin, that enter the cytosol of almost every cell type, including the cells of the innate and adaptive immune systems, and subvert cell signaling. Edema toxin causes a consistent elevation of cyclic adenosine monophosphate, whereas lethal toxin cleaves most isoforms of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinases. In a concerted manner, these toxins alter major signaling pathways involved in the development of immune-cell effector functions, with the inhibition of bacterial clearance by phagocytes and of B. anthracis-specific responses. Thus, B. anthracis can invade the host, with ensuing massive bacteremia and toxemia. Here, we review the specific effects of B. anthracis on neutrophils, macrophages, dendritic cells, T- and B-lymphocytes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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