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Am J Physiol. 1997 Nov;273(5):G1014-22. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.1997.273.5.G1014.

Epidermal growth factor attenuates Clostridium difficile toxin A- and B-induced damage of human colonic mucosa.

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University Clinic of Surgery, University of Vienna, Austria.


Epidermal growth factor (EGF) exhibits a cytoprotective effect on gastrointestinal epithelia via a receptor-mediated mechanism. We investigated the effect of EGF on Clostridium difficile toxin A (TxA)- and toxin B (TxB)-induced damage of human colon. Ussing-chambered colonic mucosa was exposed serosally to EGF before and during luminal exposure to TxA and TxB. Resistance was calculated from potential difference and short-circuit current. Epithelial damage was assessed by light microscopy and alteration of F-actin by fluoresceinated phalloidin. Luminal exposure of colonic strips to TxA and TxB caused a time- and dose-dependent decrease in electrical resistance, necrosis and dehiscence of colonocytes, and disruption and condensation of enterocyte F-actin. These effects were inhibited by prior, but not simultaneous, serosal application of EGF (20 nM). Administration of the tyrosine kinase inhibitor genistein (10(-6) M) inhibited the protective effects of EGF. We conclude that EGF protects against TxA and TxB probably by stabilizing the cytoskeleton, the main target of these toxins.

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