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Gastroenterology. 1989 Nov;97(5):1186-92.

Comparative study of Clostridium difficile toxin A and cholera toxin in rabbit ileum.

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Evans Memorial Department of Clinical Research, Boston University School of Medicine, Massachusetts.


The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of Clostridium difficile toxin A and cholera toxin on fluid secretion, intestinal permeability, and arachidonate metabolites in rabbit ileum. Injection of 25 micrograms of either purified toxin into 10-cm ileal loops caused significant increases in fluid secretion and intestinal permeability to mannitol as well as release of prostaglandin E2 into the lumen. Toxin A, but not cholera toxin, caused a severe inflammatory reaction of the lamina propria and necrosis of enterocytes as well as increased release of leukotriene B4. The toxin A-mediated increases in prostaglandin E2 and leukotriene B4 could be blocked by prior instillation of 10 mg of 5-aminosalicylic acid into ileal loops. 5-Aminosalicylic acid also significantly diminished the expected increase in mannitol permeability after both toxins, but had no significant inhibitory effect on fluid secretion or, in the case of toxin A, intestinal inflammation. Our results indicate that C. difficile and cholera enterotoxins differ substantially in their effects on the rabbit intestine. Clostridium difficile toxin A, an inflammatory toxin, produces a striking infiltration of the lamina propria with neutrophils that is associated with increased release of leukotriene B4. In contrast, cholera toxin does not cause inflammation or leukotriene B4 release. Increased release of prostaglandin E2 occurs after exposure to both toxins and appears to be correlated with increased intestinal permeability.

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