Clostridium perfringens type D causes disease in sheep, goats, and other ruminants. Type D isolates produce, at minimum, alpha and epsilon (ETX) toxins, but some express up to five different toxins, raising questions about which toxins are necessary for the virulence of these bacteria. We evaluated the contribution of ETX to C. perfringens type D pathogenicity in an intraduodenal challenge model in sheep, goats, and mice using a virulent C. perfringens type D wild-type strain (WT), an isogenic ETX null mutant (etx mutant), and a strain where the etx mutation has been reversed (etx complemented). All sheep and goats, and most mice, challenged with the WT isolate developed acute clinical disease followed by death in most cases. Sheep developed various gross and/or histological changes that included edema of brain, lungs, and heart as well as hydropericardium. Goats developed various effects, including necrotizing colitis, pulmonary edema, and hydropericardium. No significant gross or histological abnormalities were observed in any mice infected with the WT strain. All sheep, goats, and mice challenged with the isogenic etx mutant remained clinically healthy for ≥24 h, and no gross or histological abnormalities were observed in those animals. Complementation of etx knockout restored virulence; most goats, sheep, and mice receiving this complemented mutant developed clinical and pathological changes similar to those observed in WT-infected animals. These results indicate that ETX is necessary for type D isolates to induce disease, supporting a key role for this toxin in type D disease pathogenesis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases