Alteration of Immune Function by Staphylococcal Pyrogenic Exotoxin Type C: Possible Role in Toxic-Shock Syndrome

J Infect Dis. 1983 Mar;147(3):391-8. doi: 10.1093/infdis/147.3.391.


Staphylococcal pyrogenic exotoxin type C (PE-C) suppressed synthesis of IgM antibodies to sheep erythrocytes by in vitro cultures of murine and rabbit splenocytes. Maximal suppression was observed on day 4 of culture and at PE-C doses of 0.1 and 0.01 microgram per 10(7) splenocytes. Endotoxin, added to cell cultures containing PE-C, caused further suppression of IgM synthesis. Endotoxin alone added to cultures was not immunosuppressive. Sublethal doses of PE-C plus endotoxin also suppressed complement-fixing antibody responses in rabbits to sheep erythrocytes; neither agent alone was suppressive. Further, the combination of PE-C and endotoxin blocked reticuloendothelial clearance of colloidal carbon by 50% during a 20-min period. PE-C enhanced the skin reactivity of rabbits previously sensitized to purified protein derivative. One-half of rabbits immunized with PE-C emulsified in adjuvant failed to make antibody to PE-C during a 112-day period. The animals that were nonresponsive to PE-C were able to make antibodies to sheep erythrocytes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation / drug effects
  • Bacterial Toxins / pharmacology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Delayed / immunology
  • Immune Tolerance / drug effects
  • Immunoglobulin M / biosynthesis
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Rabbits
  • Shock, Septic / immunology*
  • Skin Tests
  • Spleen / cytology


  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Staphylococcal pyrogenic exotoxin C