Comparative pathogenesis of enteric clostridial infections in humans and animals

Francisco A Uzal, Mauricio A. Navarro, Jihong Li, John C. Freedman, Archana Shrestha, Bruce A. McClane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Several enteric clostridial diseases can affect humans and animals. Of these, the enteric infections caused by Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium difficile are amongst the most prevalent and they are reviewed here. C. perfringens type A strains encoding alpha toxin (CPA) are frequently associated with enteric disease of many animal mammalian species, but their role in these diseased mammals remains to be clarified. C. perfringens type B encoding CPA, beta (CPB) and epsilon (ETX) toxins causes necro-hemorrhagic enteritis, mostly in sheep, and these strains have been recently suggested to be involved in multiple sclerosis in humans, although evidence of this involvement is lacking. C. perfringens type C strains encode CPA and CPB and cause necrotizing enteritis in humans and animals, while CPA and ETX producing type D strains of C. perfringens produce enterotoxemia in sheep, goats and cattle, but are not known to cause spontaneous disease in humans. The role of C. perfringens type E in animal or human disease remains poorly defined. The newly revised toxinotype F encodes CPA and enterotoxin (CPE), the latter being responsible for food poisoning in humans, and the less prevalent antibiotic associated and sporadic diarrhea. The role of these strains in animal disease has not been fully described and remains controversial. Another newly created toxinotype, G, encodes CPA and necrotic enteritis toxin B-like (NetB), and is responsible for avian necrotic enteritis, but has not been associated with human disease. C. difficile produces colitis and/or enterocolitis in humans and multiple animal species. The main virulence factors of this microorganism are toxins A, B and an ADP-ribosyltransferase (CDT). Other clostridia causing enteric diseases in humans and/or animals are Clostridium spiroforme, Clostridium piliforme, Clostridium colinum, Clostridium sordellii, Clostridium chauvoei, Clostridium septicum, Clostridium botulinum, Clostridium butyricum and Clostridium neonatale. The zoonotic transmission of some, but not all these clostridsial species, has been demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-20
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • Animals
  • Clostridial
  • Clostridium spp.
  • Humans
  • Pathogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases


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