Growth of Toxic-Shock-Syndrome Strain of Staphylococcus Aureus After Enzymic Degradation of 'Rely' Tampon Component

Lancet. 1983 Mar 19;1(8325):615-8. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(83)91794-4.


beta-glucosidase, cellulase, alpha-mannosidase, beta-galactosidase, and N-acetyl-beta-glucosaminidase were tested for their ability to hydrolyse the carboxymethylcellulose contained in 'Rely' tampons (R-CMC). The end-products of the hydrolysis were determined by chromatography. Only beta-glucosidase and cellulase hydrolysed R-CMC and the major product detectable after enzymic degradation was glucose, as confirmed chromatographically and by the glucose oxidase test. The enzymic-degradation products of R-CMC were able to support the growth of a toxic-shock-syndrome strain of Staphylococcus aureus. This finding suggests that as it is degraded by enzymes in the vaginal cavity R-CMC may become an exogenous source of nutrients for pathogenic organisms.

MeSH terms

  • Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium / metabolism
  • Cellulase / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glycoside Hydrolases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrolysis
  • Menstruation
  • Shock, Septic / etiology
  • Shock, Septic / microbiology*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / enzymology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / growth & development*
  • Syndrome
  • Tampons, Surgical*
  • Vagina / microbiology


  • Glycoside Hydrolases
  • Cellulase
  • Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium