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J Clin Invest. 1988 Jun;81(6):1741-5.

Clostridium difficile toxin A stimulates intracellular calcium release and chemotactic response in human granulocytes.

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Section of Gastroenterology, Evans Memorial Department of Clinical Research, University Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02118.


Clostridium difficile, a common enteric pathogen, mediates tissue damage and intestinal fluid secretion by release of two protein exotoxins: toxin A, an enterotoxin, and toxin B, a cytotoxin. Because toxin A elicits an intense inflammatory reaction in vivo, we studied the effects of highly purified C. difficile toxins on activation of human granulocytes. Toxin A at concentrations of 10(-7) to 10(-6) M, but not toxin B, elicited a significant chemotactic and chemokinetic response by granulocytes that was comparable with that induced by the chemotactic factor N-FMLP (10(-7) M). Neither toxin stimulated release of superoxide anion from granulocytes. Toxin A produced a rapid, transient rise in cytosolic [Ca2+]i, as measured by quin 2 fluorescence. Pertussis toxin and depletion of intra- and extracellular calcium blocked the toxin A effect on cytosolic [Ca2+]i. These findings suggest that the inflammatory effects of C. difficile toxin A in the intestine may be related to its ability to mobilize intracellular Ca2+ and elicit a chemotactic response by granulocytes.

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