Mechanism of Clostridium difficile toxin A-induced apoptosis in T84 cells

Gerly A C Brito, Jun Fujji, Benedito A. Carneiro-Filho, Aldo A M Lima, Tom Obrig, Richard L. Guerrant*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


This study is an investigation into the mechanism of Clostridium difficile toxin A-induced apoptosis in human intestinal epithelial cells. Toxin A induced apoptosis of T84 cells in a dose- and time-dependent fashion. Toxin A-induced apoptosis was completely inhibited by blocking toxin enzymatic activity on Rho GTPases with uridine 5′-diphosphate-2′,3′-dialdehyde by a nonspecific caspase inhibitor and was partially inhibited by caspase −1, −3, −6, −8, and −9 inhibitors. Caspases 3, 6, 8, and 9 and Bid activation were detected. Toxin A also induced changes in mitochondrial membrane potential and cytochrome c release at 18-24 h, a time course similar to caspase-9 activation. In conclusion, toxin A induces apoptosis by a mechanism dependent on inactivation of Rho, activation of caspases 3, 6, 8, and 9 and Bid, and mitochondrialdamage followed by cytochrome c release. Toxin A proapoptotic activity may contribute to the mucosal disruption seen in toxin A-induced enteritis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1438-1447
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 15 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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