Background: Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:H7 infection causes severe diseases such as bloody diarrhea and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Although EHEC O157:H7 strains have exhibited high genetic variability, their abilities to cause human diseases have not been fully examined.
Methods: Clade typing and stx subtyping of EHEC O157:H7 strains, which were isolated in Japan during 1999-2011 from 269 HUS patients and 387 asymptomatic carriers (ACs) and showed distinct pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns, were performed to determine relationships between specific lineages and clinical presentation.
Results: Clades 6 and 8 strains were more frequently found among the isolates from HUS cases than those from ACs (P = .00062 for clade 6, P < .0001 for clade 8). All clade 6 strains isolated from HUS patients harbored stx2a and/or stx2c, whereas all clade 8 strains harbored either stx2a or stx2a/stx2c. However, clade 7 strains were predominantly found among the AC isolates but less frequently found among the HUS isolates, suggesting a significant association between clade 7 and AC (P < .0001). Logistic regression analysis revealed that 0-9 year old age is a significant predictor of the association between clade 8 and HUS. We also found an intact norV gene, which encodes for a nitric oxide reductase that inhibits Shiga toxin activity under anaerobic condition, in all clades 1-3 isolates but not in clades 4-8 isolates.
Conclusions: Early detection of EHEC O157:H7 strains that belonged to clades 6/8 and harbored specific stx subtypes may be important for defining the risk of disease progression in EHEC-infected 0- to 9-year-old children.
Keywords: EHEC; HUS; O157; clade; stx.