A new staphylococcal enterotoxin, enterotoxin F, associated with toxic-shock-syndrome Staphylococcus aureus isolates

Lancet. 1981 May 9;1(8228):1017-21. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(81)92186-3.


612 (93.8%) of 65 Staphylococcus aureus strains isolated from 65 patients with toxic-shock syndrome (TSS) produced an enterotoxin-like protein, tentatively identified as staphylococcal enterotoxin F (SEF). One of the other strains produced staphylococcal enterotoxin B and another exterotoxin C. In two blind studies all 34 TSS-associated S. aureau strains examined and 3 (11.5%) of 26 control S. aureau strains produced SEF. 2 of the latter strains were isolated from the vaginas of women who had no history of TSS. SEF was purified, and specific antibodies to it were prepared. Only 4 (4.6%) of 87 S. aureau strains from other sources were found to produce SEF. 5 (17.2%) of 29 TSS patients whose acute sera were available had anti-SEF antibody present in titres of greater than or equal to 1:100 as determined by radioimmunoassay, compared with 44 (78.6%) of 56 controls--demonstrating a greater serosusceptibility of TSS patients to SEF. It is suggested that staphylococcal enterotoxin, particularly SEF, may be a cause of the signs and symptoms of TSS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies / analysis
  • Bacterial Toxins*
  • Enterotoxins / biosynthesis*
  • Enterotoxins / classification
  • Enterotoxins / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Shock, Septic / etiology
  • Shock, Septic / microbiology*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / classification
  • Staphylococcus aureus / isolation & purification
  • Staphylococcus aureus / metabolism*
  • Superantigens*


  • Antibodies
  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Enterotoxins
  • Superantigens
  • enterotoxin F, Staphylococcal