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Hum Exp Toxicol. 2011 Apr;30(4):275-82. doi: 10.1177/0960327110371700. Epub 2010 May 20.

Clostridium perfringens epsilon toxin is cytotoxic for human renal tubular epithelial cells.

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Instituto de Patobiología, Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Agropecuarias, Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Clostridium perfringens epsilon toxin (ETX) is responsible for a fatal enterotoxemia in different animal species, producing extensive renal damage, neurological disturbance and edema of lungs, heart and kidneys. However, there is no information about the susceptibility of humans to ETX. Here, we report that primary cultures of human renal tubular epithelial cells (HRTEC) exposed to ETX showed a marked swelling with subsequent large blebs surrounding most cells. The incubation of HRTEC with ETX produced a reduction of cell viability in a dose- and time-dependent manner. The CD(50) after 1-hour and 24-hour incubation were 3 µg/mL and 0.5 µg/mL, respectively. The pulse with ETX for 3 min was enough to produce a significant cytotoxic effect on HRTEC after 1-hour incubation. ETX binds to HRTEC forming a large complex of about 160 kDa similar to what was found in the Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cell line. The HRTEC could be a useful cell model to improve the understanding of the mechanisms involved on the cell damage mediated by ETX.

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