Objectives: Clostridium difficile produces toxins and is an aetiological organism of pseudomembranous colitis. Immunoglobulin is one of the treatment strategies against fulminant C. difficile infections, but the clinical evidence is still limited. We examined the efficacy of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) in C. difficile toxin (CDT)-mediated lethality and cellular injury in mice.
Methods: Mice were intraperitoneally injected with 0.2 mL of filter-sterilized C. difficile culture supernatant (CDT preparation). The IVIg preparation was intravenously administered at several timepoints. We also examined alteration of intestinal permeability and an apoptosis marker in the gut. In in vitro experiments, HEp-2 cells were incubated with a CDT preparation in the presence or absence of the IVIg preparation, after which cell viability and lactate dehydrogenase release were examined.
Results: All control mice died by day 2 after injection of the CDT preparation. The maximum effects of IVIg (100% survival) were observed when the mice were treated with IVIg at the same time as injection of the CDT preparation. The IVIg effects were closely associated with improvement of intestinal vascular permeability and mucosal damage in the gut. In addition, reduction of an apoptosis marker (histone-associated DNA fragments) was demonstrated in the mice treated with IVIg. Interestingly, a smaller increase in histone-associated DNA fragments was observed in FasL-deficient mice treated with the CDT preparation compared with wild-type.
Conclusions: These data demonstrated that IVIg may be protective against CDT-mediated lethality, when administered at the appropriate time. The present data also suggest an increase in intestinal permeability, probably through exaggeration of Fas/FasL-mediated apoptosis, as a key mechanism of C. difficile-mediated diseases.