Enterotoxin A of Clostridium difficile and α-Gal Epitopes

  • Charalabos Pothoulakis
Part of the Subcellular Biochemistry book series (SCBI, volume 32)


Clostridium difficile, a noninvasive Gram positive toxigenic bacterium, is the principal agent of antibiotic-associated diarrhea and colitis, one of the most important complications of antibiotic therapy (Kelly et al., 1994). C. difficile diarrhea and colitis affects millions of patients in hospitals and nursing homes around the world and represents the most frequent form of infectious colitis in hospitalized patients. Thus, up to a quarter of hospitalized patients can be infected with this anaerobic pathogen and many nosocomial outbreaks of C. difficile infection have been described (McFarland et al., 1989). One of the characteristic features of C. difficile colitis is the acute inflammatory infiltrate in the colonic mucosa which is associated with severe destruction of colonic epithelial cells (Kelly et al., 1994). C. difficile infection is a toxin-mediated disease. Studies in animal models coupled with receptor binding experiments documented that C. difficile-toxin A induced diarrhea and intestinal inflammation is mediated by binding of C. difficile toxin A to a carbohydrate receptor containing α-gal epitopes.


Brush Border Clostridium Difficile Brush Border Membrane Wheat Germ Agglutinin Fluid Secretion 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charalabos Pothoulakis
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Gastroenterology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical CenterHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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