Antibody neutralisation and toxin A elution experiments showed that toxin A uptake from rabbit intestinal lumen was a continuous process. The kinetics of the ileal and colonic responses were significantly different; a much longer incubation (4 h) with toxin was required for colon, compared with 45 min for the ileum, to induce fluid accumulation at 12 h. Fluid secretion was induced only when toxin had gained access to deeper tissues, probably achieved by several toxin uptake-tissue damage cycles. Toxin A induced haemorrhage in both ileal and colonic tissues. In ileum, the villus architecture was severely damaged and this gave rise to protein-rich bloody luminal fluid. In the colon, although colonocytes were removed, the basement membrane remained intact; this resulted in a tissue-localised haemorrhage and a protein-low watery ultrafiltered luminal fluid. Toxin A is thus a novel type of histotoxic enterotoxin.


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