Clostridium difficile infection: molecular pathogenesis and novel therapeutics
The Gram-positive anaerobic bacterium Clostridium difficile produces toxins A and B, which can cause a spectrum of diseases from pseudomembranous colitis to C. difficile-associated diarrhea. A limited number of C. difficile strains also produce a binary toxin that exhibits ADP ribosyltransferase activity. Here, the structure and the mechanism of action of these toxins as well as their role in disease are reviewed. Nosocomial C. difficile infection is often contracted in hospital when patients treated with antibiotics suffer a disturbance in normal gut microflora. C. difficile spores can persist on dry, inanimate surface for months. Metronidazole and oral vancomycin are clinically used for treatment of C. difficile infection but clinical failure and concern about promotion of resistance are motivating the search for novel non-antibiotic therapeutics. Methods for controlling both toxins and spores, replacing gut microflora by probiotics or fecal transplant, and killing bacteria in the anaerobic gut by photodynamic therapy are discussed.