Structure and function of streptococcal and staphylococcal superantigens in septic shock

Infect Dis Clin North Am. 1999 Jun;13(2):387-96, ix. doi: 10.1016/s0891-5520(05)70081-7.


The pyrogenic exotoxins of Group A Streptococci and enterotoxins of Staphylococcus aureus constitute a family of related toxins that acts as "superantigens" because of their ability to stimulate large numbers of T-cell subsets. These toxins have been implicated in gastrointestinal food poisoning, toxic shock syndromes, Gram-positive sepsis, and, possibly, septic shock. There is increasing evidence that Gram-positive infections frequently coexist in septic shock and that bacterial superantigens play a major role.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / complications
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / immunology
  • Humans
  • Shock, Septic / immunology*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / complications
  • Staphylococcal Infections / diagnosis
  • Staphylococcus aureus / immunology*
  • Streptococcal Infections / complications
  • Streptococcal Infections / diagnosis
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / immunology*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Superantigens / chemistry*
  • Superantigens / physiology*


  • Superantigens