Med. Weter. 68 (8), 456-460, 2012

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Cichoń A., Wieczorek K., Osek J.
Role of Clostridium perfringens strains in human foodborne infections
Clostridium perfringens is an obligatorily anaerobic, Gram-positive, rod-shaped pathogen, which has the ability to form oval endospores. The microorganism is widespread in environments such as water, soil, waste water, the intestinal tract of humans and animals, as well as in raw and processed food. C. perfringens demonstrates the ability to produce a number of toxins, including enterotoxin (CPE) and major lethal toxins (α, β, ε and ι), which is the basis for a division into five toxinotypes (A, B, C, D, E). It was shown that CPE is encoded by the cpe gene and produced by less than 5% of C. perfringens strains, mainly belonging to type A. Production of enterotoxin is inextricably linked with the process of forming endospores. Considerable evidence implicates CPE as a virulence factor responsible for diarrhea and cramping symptoms associated with C. perfringens type A food poisoning. It is proven that this food poisoning can be caused by strains with the cpe gene located in the bacterial chromosome or on large plasmids, in contrast to other CPE-mediated diseases such as antibiotic (AAD) and sporadic diarrhea (SD), which are associated with plasmid-borne cpe-positive C. perfringens strains. Food poisoning caused by enterotoxigenic strains of C. perfringens type A is one of the most common gastrointestinal diseases in developed countries and shows a positive correlation with the growing percentage of people eating meals in catering establishments.
Key words: C. perfringens, enterotoxin, foodborne infections