The Pathogenicity of Clostridium Difficile

Clin Microbiol Infect. 2001 Aug;7(8):421-7. doi: 10.1046/j.1198-743x.2001.00287.x.


It is now well established that the major virulence factors of C. difficile are the two toxins A and B. However, the organism possesses an array of other putative virulence factors that may be important for localisation within the colon, and in evasion of the immune system. It has been observed that certain types of C. difficile are more commonly found causing disease than others, and this seems to be independent of toxin production. Is this simply a reflection of their abundance in the hospital environment, or is it due to their virulence determinants? This review covers our current knowledge of the modes of action of toxins A and B at the cellular and molecular level. Many unanswered questions are posed that require answers before we can fully understand the pathogenic mechanisms of the organism and be in a position to manage better the spectrum of diseases it causes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins*
  • Bacterial Toxins / immunology
  • Bacterial Toxins / metabolism*
  • Clostridium difficile / genetics
  • Clostridium difficile / immunology
  • Clostridium difficile / pathogenicity*
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / immunology
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / microbiology
  • Enterotoxins / immunology
  • Enterotoxins / metabolism*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Virulence


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Enterotoxins
  • tcdA protein, Clostridium difficile
  • toxB protein, Clostridium difficile