Toxin production by Campylobacter spp.


Of all the virulence factors that were proposed for Campylobacter jejuni and related species to cause disease in humans, the discovery of toxin production was the most promising but led to a rather confusing and even disappointing stream of data. The discussion of whether proteinaceous exotoxins are relevant in disease remains open. One important reason for this lack of consensus is the anecdotal nature of the literature reports. To provide a basis for an unbiased opinion, this review compiles all described exotoxins, compares their reported properties, and provides a summary of animal model studies and clinical data. The toxins are divided into enterotoxins and cytotoxins and are sorted according to their biochemical properties. Since many Campylobacter toxins have been compared with toxins of other species, some key examples of the latter are also discussed. Future directions of toxin research that appear promising are defined.

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