Clostridial gas gangrene. II. Phospholipase C-induced activation of platelet gpIIbIIIa mediates vascular occlusion and myonecrosis in Clostridium perfringens gas gangrene

J Infect Dis. 2000 Sep;182(3):808-15. doi: 10.1086/315757. Epub 2000 Aug 17.


Clostridium perfringens gas gangrene is a fulminant infection, and radical amputation remains the single best treatment. It has been hypothesized that rapid tissue destruction is related to tissue hypoxia secondary to toxin-induced vascular obstruction, and previous studies demonstrated that phospholipase C (PLC) caused a rapid and irreversible decrease in skeletal muscle blood flow that paralleled the formation of intravascular aggregates of activated platelets, fibrin, and leukocytes. In this study, flow cytometry demonstrated that PLC stimulated platelet/neutrophil aggregation in a gpIIbIIIa-dependent fashion. Pretreatment of animals with heparin or depletion of leukocytes reduced blood-flow deficits, and aggregate formation caused by PLC. It is concluded that fulminant tissue destruction in gas gangrene results from profound attenuation of blood flow caused by PLC-induced, gpIIbIIIa-mediated formation of heterotypic platelet/polymorphonuclear leukocyte aggregates. Therapeutic strategies that target gpIIbIIIa may prevent vascular occlusion, maintain tissue viability, and provide an alternative to radical amputation for patients with this infection.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gas Gangrene / metabolism
  • Gas Gangrene / pathology*
  • Granulocytes / metabolism
  • Heparin / pharmacology
  • Microscopy, Video
  • Muscle, Skeletal / blood supply
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology*
  • Platelet Activation*
  • Platelet Glycoprotein GPIIb-IIIa Complex / metabolism*
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Sheep
  • Type C Phospholipases / metabolism*


  • Platelet Glycoprotein GPIIb-IIIa Complex
  • Heparin
  • Type C Phospholipases