Superantigens are key virulence factors in the immunopathogenesis of invasive disease caused by group A streptococcus. These protein exotoxins have also been associated with severe group C and group G streptococcal infections. A number of novel streptococcal superantigens have recently been described with some resulting confusion in their classification. In addition to clarifying the nomenclature of streptococcal superantigens and proposing guidelines for their categorization, this review summarizes the evidence supporting their involvement in various clinical diseases including acute rheumatic fever.
Keywords: invasive disease; nomenclature; streptococcus; toxic shock; toxin.
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