Comparison of toxin and spore production in clinically relevant strains of Clostridium difficile

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Clostridium difficile is a major cause of nosocomial diarrhoea. The toxins that it produces (TcdA and TcdB) are responsible for the characteristic pathology of C. difficile infection (CDI), while its spores persist in the environment, causing its widespread transmission. Many different strains of C. difficile exist worldwide and the epidemiology of the strains is ever-changing: in Scotland, PCR ribotype 012 was once prevalent, but currently ribotypes 106, 001 and 027 are endemic. This study aimed to identify the differences among these ribotypes with respect to their growth, and toxin and spore production in vitro. It was observed that the hypervirulent ribotype 027 produces significantly more toxin than the other ribotypes in the exponential and stationary phases of growth. Further, the endemic strains produce significantly more toxins and spores than ribotype 012. Of note was the observation that tcdC expression did not decrease into the stationary phase of growth, implying that it may have a modulatory rather than repressive effect on toxin production. Further, the increased expression of tcdE in ribotype 027 suggests its importance in the release of the toxins. It can thus be concluded that several genotypic and phenotypic traits might synergistically contribute to the hypervirulence of ribotype 027. These observations might suggest a changing trend towards increased virulence in the strains currently responsible for CDI.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1343-1353
Number of pages11
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2011


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