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An enterotoxin (not to be confused with endotoxin) is a protein toxin released by a microorganism in the intestine.[1]

Enterotoxins are chromosomally encoded exotoxins that are produced and secreted from several bacterial organisms. They are often heat stable, of low molecular weight and are water-soluble. Enterotoxins are frequently cytotoxic and kill cells by altering the apical membrane permeability of the mucosal (epithelial) cells of the intestinal wall. They are mostly pore-forming toxins (mostly chloride pores), secreted by bacteria, that assemble to form pores in cell membranes. This causes the cells to die.

Contents

Clinical significance

The action of enterotoxins leads to increased chloride ion permeability of the apical membrane of intestinal mucosal cells. These membrane pores are activated by either increased cAMP or by increased calcium ion concentration intracellularly. The pore formation has a direct effect on the osmolarity of the luminal contents of the intestines. Increased chloride permeability leads to leakage into the lumen followed by sodium and water movement. This leads to a secretory diarrhea within a few hours of ingesting enterotoxin. Several microbial organisms contain the necessary enterotoxin to create such an effect, such as Staphylococcus aureus or E. coli.

Organisms secreting enterotoxins

Examples of organisms secreting enterotoxins are:

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Bacterial

Viral

See also

References


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