Escherichia coli that cause diarrhea: enterotoxigenic, enteropathogenic, enteroinvasive, enterohemorrhagic, and enteroadherent

J Infect Dis. 1987 Mar;155(3):377-89. doi: 10.1093/infdis/155.3.377.


There are four major categories of diarrheagenic Escherichia coli: enterotoxigenic (a major cause of travelers' diarrhea and infant diarrhea in less-developed countries), enteroinvasive (a cause of dysentery), enteropathogenic (an important cause of infant diarrhea), and enterohemorrhagic (a cause of hemorrhagic colitis and hemolytic uremic syndrome). Besides manifesting distinct clinical patterns, these categories of E. coli differ in their epidemiology and pathogenesis and in their O:H serotypes. Common features (albeit distinct for each category) include plasmid-encoded virulence properties, characteristic interactions with intestinal mucosa, and elaboration of various types of enterotoxins or cytotoxins. A less-well-defined fifth category of diarrheagenic E. coli is that of enteroadherent E. coli, so far identifiable only by their pattern of adherence to Hep-2 cells in tissue culture.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Bacterial / analysis
  • Bacterial Adhesion
  • Bacterial Toxins / biosynthesis
  • Colitis / microbiology
  • Diarrhea / microbiology*
  • Diarrhea, Infantile / microbiology*
  • Enterotoxins / biosynthesis
  • Escherichia coli / immunology
  • Escherichia coli / pathogenicity*
  • Escherichia coli Infections / microbiology
  • Escherichia coli Proteins*
  • Fimbriae Proteins*
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / microbiology
  • Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intestine, Small / microbiology
  • Virulence


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Enterotoxins
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • colonization factor antigens
  • heat stable toxin (E coli)
  • heat-labile enterotoxin, E coli
  • Fimbriae Proteins