Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate transvaginal penetration of toxic shock syndrome toxin-1 and its effects on permeability and tissue integrity in vitro with the use of excised porcine vaginal mucosa.
Study design: Permeability to tritiated water (1 and 10 microg/mL applied toxin) and transmucosal flux of (35)S-methionine-labeled toxic shock syndrome toxin-1 (10 and 20 microg/mL) for up to 12 hours were assessed with the use of a continuous flow perfusion system. The location of labeled toxin that penetrated the mucosal tissue strata was determined. The integrity of toxin-treated, intact, scalpel-incised tissue was evaluated histopathologically.
Results: Toxic shock syndrome toxin-1 caused a non-dose-dependent increase in mucosal permeability and traversed the intact mucosa at a low rate without disrupting tissue integrity. In incised vaginal mucosa, toxic shock syndrome toxin-1 induced subepithelial separation and atrophy that were analogous to clinically relevant vaginal lesions that were reported in fatal cases of menstrual toxic shock syndrome.
Conclusion: An in vitro model could be used to demonstrate that toxic shock syndrome toxin-1 permeates the vaginal mucosa and distributes throughout the tissue. Histologic evaluation of tissues that were exposed to toxic shock syndrome toxin-1 demonstrated lesions that were similar to those lesions that were reported in cases of menstrual toxic shock syndrome.