The toxins and other active products of hitherto described include a lethal, oedema-producing toxin, an oxygen-labile haemolysin, a fibrinolysin, a collagenase and a non-toxic phospholipase C.

Using cultures of a strain of that did not produce phospholipase C grown in a peptone-glycerophosphate medium, we have re-examined the pathogenesis of gas gangrene in relation to the toxins produced by this organism. Toxic extracts were prepared from washed cells by sonic disintegration or by suspension in saline.

We have obtained evidence that oedema and internal haemorrhages produced by this organism are due to two independent toxins, both of which are, however, dermonecrotising and haemorrhagic in the skin of rats and guinea-pigs. The two skin reactions are distinguishable by their appearances. The toxin responsible for the internal haemorrhages is extractable from sporulating cells and the evidence suggests that it is protein in nature. It is neutralised by antitoxin, but not by normal horse serum. This haemorrhagic toxin produces characteristic localised brownish haemorrhages in the skin, which can be used to assay the toxin. Whilst petechial haemorrhages are produced locally after intramuscular injection, intravenous or intraperitoneal injection produces haemorrhages in the omentum and mesentery and in contiguous viscera. The adipose tissue in these sites often shows fat necrosis.

The lesions in rat or guinea-pig skin produced by the venom of the snake and by lysolecithin are very similar to the lesions produced by the haemorrhagic toxin. Though it is possible that this toxin produces its effects indirectly through the mediation of toxic secondary products such as lysophosphatides, attempts to detect such products in toxin-tissue mixtures have failed.


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