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Gastroenterology. 1994 Feb;106(2):306-17.

Role of Shiga-like toxin I in bacterial enteritis: comparison between isogenic Escherichia coli strains induced in rabbits.

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Division of Medicine, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington, D.C.



Enteroadherent Escherichia coli that produce Shiga-like toxins are important causes of human disease, including enterohemorrhagic E. coli-induced colitis (EHEC). The role of Shiga-like toxins in these illnesses is unclear. The aim of this study was to establish an animal model for human EHEC and to determine the role of Shiga-like toxin I (SLT-I) in this model.


E. coli strain RDEC-1 is an enteroadherent rabbit diarrheal pathogen. An isogenic variant of RDEC-1 (termed RDEC-H19A) producing high levels of SLT-I was obtained by infecting RDEC-1 with an SLT-I-converting bacteriophage. The effects of in vivo enteric infection produced in rabbits by RDEC-H19A were compared with those in uninfected and RDEC-1-infected animals.


SLT-I-producing RDEC-H19A induced a severe, noninvasive, enteroadherent infection in rabbits. Clinically, infection with RDEC-H19A was more severe than infection with RDEC-1 and caused more serious histological lesions including vascular changes, edema, and more severe inflammation. Interleukin 1 and platelet-activating factor appear to be important inflammatory mediators to this infection.


The illness induced by RDEC-H19A in rabbits resembled enterohemorrhagic E. coli-induced colitis of humans. SLT-I is an important virulence factor in the pathogenesis of EHEC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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