Clostridium perfringens Epsilon Toxin

Authored by: Michel R. Popoff

Manual of Security Sensitive Microbes and Toxins

Print publication date:  April  2014
Online publication date:  April  2014

Print ISBN: 9781466553965
eBook ISBN: 9781466553989
Adobe ISBN:


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Based on the toxins produced, Clostridium perfringens is responsible for diverse pathologies in man and animals, resulting from a gastrointestinal or wound contamination and including food poisoning, enteritis, necrotic enteritis, enterotoxemia, gangrene, and puerperal septicemia. Among the various toxins produced by C. perfringens, epsilon toxin (ETX) is one of the most potent toxins known. Its lethal activity ranges just below the botulinum neurotoxins. Indeed, the lethal dose by intraperitoneal injection in mice is 1.2 ng/kg for botulinum neurotoxin A and 70 ng/kg for ETX (Table 42.1). 1,2 For this reason, ETX is considered as a potential biological weapon classified as biological agent of the category B, although very few ETX-mediated natural diseases have been reported in humans. 3 ETX belongs to the family of Aerolysin pore-forming toxins; however, its precise mode of action accounting for its high potency is not yet fully understood. 4 Recent reviews have been focused on ETX. 5,6

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