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Detection of Seven Virulence and Toxin Genes of Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli Isolates from Different Sources and Cytolethal Distending Toxin Production Suggest Potential Diversity of Pathogenic Properties among Isolates

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Campylobacter is one of the most common causes of bacterial gastroenteritis in humans worldwide and yet is still a poorly understood bacterial pathogen. Little is known about the prevalence of different virulence factors and the ability to produce toxin among Campylobacter isolates obtained from different sources. In this study, the presence of seven putative virulence and toxin genes (cadF, ceuE, flaA, cdtA, cdtB, cdtC, cdt gene cluster, and the virulence plasmid vir B11) among Campylobacter jejuni (n = 560) and Campylobacter coli (n = 16) isolates obtained from broilers, wildlife animals, and humans was detected by polymerase chain reaction. The cytolethal distending toxin (CDT) production of isolates was studied using Vero, Colon 205, and chicken embryo cells, and the CDT titers produced by 190 isolates were determined by Vero cell assays. A high prevalence (93.3-100%) of six virulence and toxin genes (the flaA , cadF, ceuE, cdtA, cdtB, cdtC, cdt gene cluster) was found. Only 13.5% of the isolates were positive for the virulence plasmid vir B11. The CDT effects in three tissue culture assays were observed in 97.6% of isolates. Determining the CDT titers in Vero cell assays of 190 isolates revealed that 92.6% of isolates produced a CDT titer of 1:5 to 1:100, whereas while 7.4% of the isolates produced no CDT. The ability to produce CDT was different, depending on the origin or the Penner serotype of the isolates: 5% of Campylobacter wildlife isolates and 10% of chicken isolates produced no toxin, whereas all of the human isolates produced CDT. C. jejuni Penner serotype HS2, the most common serotype identified among Campylobacter isolates from different sources in Denmark, produced higher CDT titers in comparison with to other serotypes, suggesting the ability to survive, colonize, and cause disease may at least to some extent be serotype-specific.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Poultry, Fish and Fur Animals, Danish Veterinary Institute, Hangøvej 2, DK-8200, Aarhus, N, Denmark 2: The International Escherichia and Klebsiella Centre (WHO), Statens Serum Institut, Artillerivej 5, DK-2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark 3: Department of Bacteriology, Danish Veterinary Institute, Bulowsvej 27 DK-1790, Copenhagen V, Denmark 4: Department of Gastrointestinal and Parasitic Infections, Statens Serum Institut, Artillerivej 5 DK-2300, Copenhagen S, Denmark

Publication date: March 1, 2003

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