Neutralization of Clostridium difficile toxin by Clostridium sordellii antitoxins

T. W. Chang, S. L. Gorbach, J. B. Bartlett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Neutralization of Clostridium difficile toxin by Clostridium sordellii antitoxin was studied by cytotoxicity assay in tissue culture. The sources of toxin were stools from two patients with pseudomembranous colitis and a culture filtrate of C. difficile isolated from one of the patients. C. sordellii antitoxin was available either in monovalent from or gas gangrene polyvalent antitoxin. The potency of antitoxins against C. difficile determined by cytotoxicity assay did not correlate with the established values reported for mouse protection tests against C. sordellii toxin. An equivalent zone of optimal neutralization was demonstrated for stool toxin, and a slightly different one for culture toxin. The rate of neutralization appeared to be instantaneous, either at 24 or at 37°C. The efficacy of antitoxin in preventing cytotoxicity in cultured cells preexposed to toxin decreased rapidly with preexposure time. The union between toxin and antitoxin could be readily dissociated by simple dilution or by ammonium sulfate precipitation followed by dilution. Continued incubation of toxin-antitoxin mixture did not increase the firmness of the union, on the contrary, more dissociation occurred. The unusual looseness of the toxin-antitoxin union is probably related to lack of serological specificity or affinity. Based on these observations, a practical diagnostic method for antibiotic-induced colitis is outlined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)418-422
Number of pages5
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1978
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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