Clostridium perfringens sialidases: Potential contributors to intestinal pathogenesis and therapeutic targets

Jihong Li, Francisco A Uzal, Bruce A. McClane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Clostridium perfringens is a major cause of histotoxic and intestinal infections of humans and other animals. This Gram-positive anaerobic bacterium can produce up to three sialidases named NanH, NanI, and NanJ. The role of sialidases in histotoxic infections, such as gas gangrene (clostridial myonecrosis), remains equivocal. However, recent in vitro studies suggest that NanI may contribute to intestinal virulence by upregulating production of some toxins associated with intestinal infection, increasing the binding and activity of some of those toxins, and enhancing adherence of C. perfringens to intestinal cells. Possible contributions of NanI to intestinal colonization are further supported by observations that the C. perfringens strains causing acute food poisoning in humans often lack the nanI gene, while other C. perfringens strains causing chronic intestinal infections in humans usually carry a nanI gene. Certain sialidase inhibitors have been shown to block NanI activity and reduce C. perfringens adherence to cultured enterocyte-like cells, opening the possibility that sialidase inhibitors could be useful therapeutics against C. perfringens intestinal infections. These initial in vitro observations should be tested for their in vivo significance using animal models of intestinal infections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number341
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 19 2016


  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Gas gangrene
  • Intestinal infections
  • Sialidase inhibitors
  • Toxins; sialidases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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