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Gut Microbes. 2010 Jan;1(1):58-64.

The role of toxin A and toxin B in Clostridium difficile-associated disease: Past and present perspectives.

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Department of Microbiology; Monash University; Clayton, VIC Australia.


Recently, we constructed and characterized isogenic tcdA and tcdB mutants of a virulent Clostridium difficile strain and used a hamster model of disease to demonstrate that toxin B, not toxin A, is essential for virulence of this emerging pathogen. Earlier studies had shown that purified toxin A alone was able to induce C. difficile disease pathology and that purified toxin B was not effective unless it was co-administered with toxin A, suggesting that the toxins act synergistically. In this addendum we discuss this paradigm-shifting conclusion in the context of current strain epidemiology, particularly with respect to naturally occurring toxin A-negative, toxin B-positive isolates and the NAP1/027 epidemic isolates. The role of toxin receptors and how variant toxins might exert their effects is also discussed in relation to the published data. We conclude that it is critical to use the natural infection process to dissect the role of toxins in disease, and that future studies are contingent on such work. The impact and importance of animal models of C. difficile virulence are therefore considered within this frame of reference.

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