Toxigenic clostridia

Clin Microbiol Rev. 1990 Jan;3(1):66-98. doi: 10.1128/cmr.3.1.66.


Toxigenic clostridia belonging to 13 recognized species are discussed in this review. Each species or group of organisms is, in general, introduced by presenting the historical aspects of its discovery by early investigators of human and animal diseases. The diseases caused by each species or group are described and usually discussed in relation to the toxins involved in the pathology. Morphological and physiological characteristics of the organisms are described. Finally, the toxins produced by each organism are listed, with a presentation of their biological activities and physical and biochemical characteristics. The complete amino acid sequences for some are known, and some of the genes have been cloned. The term toxin is used loosely to include the various antigenic protein products of these organisms with biological and serological activities which have served as distinguishing characteristics for differentiation and classification. Some of these factors are not truly toxic and have no known role in pathogenicity. Some of the interesting factors common to more than one species or group are the following: neurotoxins, lethal toxins, lecithinases, oxygen-labile hemolysins, binary toxins, and ADP-ribosyltransferases. Problems in bacterial nomenclature and designation of biologically active factors are noted.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Toxins / biosynthesis*
  • Bacterial Toxins / toxicity
  • Botulism / microbiology
  • Clostridium / metabolism*
  • Clostridium Infections / microbiology*
  • Clostridium botulinum / metabolism
  • Clostridium perfringens / metabolism
  • Clostridium tetani / metabolism
  • Gas Gangrene / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Tetanus / microbiology


  • Bacterial Toxins