Defusing ?C. diff? infection

Clostridium difficile (‘C. diff’) infection is a leading cause of hospital-associated diarrhoea, and the frequency and severity of infections are on the rise.

D. Borden Lacy, Ph.D., associate professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, and colleagues recently demonstrated that the C. difficile toxin, TcdB, induces rapid cell death of human colon cell lines and pig colonic tissue. The investigators now report that TcdB-induced cell death requires the assembly of a host epithelial enzyme complex (NOX) and the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS).

Treatments that reduced expression of parts of the NOX complex, inhibited NOX component function, or ‘scavenged’ ROS all protected colon cells against the C. difficile toxin. Likewise, treatment of colon explants with an inhibitor of the NOX enzyme core or with the antioxidant NAC protected against TcdB-induced tissue damage.

The findings support the concept of using compounds to block ROS or reduce their generation as a strategy for protecting the colonic lining of patients with C. difficile infection. Vanderbilt University