The early effects of Clostridium perfringens type D epsilon toxin in ligated intestinal loops of goats and sheep

M. E Fernandez Miyakawa, Francisco A Uzal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Clostridium perfringens type D produces enterotoxaemia in goats, sheep and other animals. The disease is caused by C. perfringens epsilon toxin and, while enterotoxaemia in goats is usually characterized by enterocolitis, the disease in sheep is characterized by systemic lesions (such as lung and brain oedema) with minor and inconsistent changes observed in the intestine. A possible explanation for these differences is that epsilon toxin is more promptly absorbed by the ovine than by the caprine intestine. In an attempt to clarify this, we examined the early effects of epsilon toxin on caprine and ovine intestine. Intestinal loop assays were performed to analyse the physiological and morphological changes induced by epsilon toxin in the intestine of these species. Fluid accumulation was observed in caprine and ovine ileum and colon treated with epsilon toxin. Ileal loops from goats treated with epsilon toxin retained sodium and water earlier than ovine ileal loops treated with the same toxin. Histological analysis showed morphological alterations in the colon of both species as early as 2 h after the commencement of epsilon toxin treatment; these changes were more marked in goats than in sheep. No morphological changes were observed in the ileum of either species after 4 h incubation with epsilon toxin. These results suggest that epsilon toxin modifies ion and water transport in the small and the large intestine of goats and sheep through different mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-241
Number of pages11
JournalVeterinary Research Communications
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Colon
  • Enterotoxaemia
  • Epsilon toxin
  • Flux
  • Goat
  • Histopathology
  • Ileum
  • Sheep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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