Superantigens in dermatology

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011 Mar;64(3):455-72; quiz 473-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2010.03.044.


Superantigens (SAgs) are virulent polypeptides that are produced by a variety of infectious organisms. They are capable of causing nonspecific T cell activation by circumventing normal antigen processing in the human host. The genetic makeup of the host plays a role in conferring susceptibility or protection against SAgs. They are linked to a variety of conditions, ranging from toxic shock syndrome to recurrent toxin-mediated perineal erythema. The early recognition of signs and symptoms of SAg-mediated illnesses is important to ensure prompt medical treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antigen Presentation / immunology
  • Bacterial Toxins / immunology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / immunology
  • Enterotoxins / immunology
  • Fasciitis, Necrotizing / immunology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Mucocutaneous Lymph Node Syndrome / immunology
  • Psoriasis / immunology
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / immunology
  • Shock, Septic / immunology
  • Skin Diseases / immunology*
  • Staphylococcal Scalded Skin Syndrome / immunology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / immunology
  • Superantigens / immunology*


  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Enterotoxins
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta
  • Superantigens
  • enterotoxin F, Staphylococcal