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Infect Immun. 1994 February; 62(2): 384–389.
PMCID: PMC186119

Human antibody response to Clostridium difficile toxin A in relation to clinical course of infection.


This study investigated whether differences in fecal and serum antitoxin A antibody levels may account for the duration of Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD) and the occurrence of relapses. By an enzyme linked-immunosorbent assay, we tested 40 patients with CDAD including 25 patients without immunodeficiency and 15 patients receiving antineoplastic drugs. Two hundred eighty serum samples and 80 normal stool samples were investigated as controls. In nonimmunocompromised patients, serum immunoglobulin (IgG) and fecal IgA antitoxin A antibody titers were significantly higher in patients who suffered a single episode (n = 21) than in those with relapsing CDAD (n = 4) whose titers were at control levels. Of these 25 patients, eight suffered from diarrhea which lasted for more than 2 weeks. These patients had significantly lower serum- and feces-specific antibody levels than the others who presented symptoms of shorter duration. In cytostatic-treated patients, antitoxin A antibody levels were similar to controls, but relapses occurred in a single case. These data suggest an association between a defective humoral response to toxin A and a more severe form of C. difficile infection. They also indicate that other host-related factors control the severity of CDAD and remain to be elucidated.

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