Effect of verocytotoxins (Shiga-like toxins) on human neutrophils in vitro

Julia Holle, CM Taylor, Julie Williams, Lorraine Harper, Caroline Savage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


Neutrophil activation occurs in diarrhoea-associated HUS and correlates with disease severity, implying a role in pathogenesis. Verocytotoxin (Shiga-like toxin) has been shown to stimulate endothelium to release chemokines and express leukocyte adhesion molecules that would lead to indirect neutrophil-endothelial interaction. A direct action of verocytotoxin (VT) on neutrophils has been proposed, although in vitro studies of this are controversial. In this report we examine the effect of verocytotoxin-1 (Shiga-like toxin-1) (VT1) and verocytotoxin-2 (VT2) on human neutrophils in vitro with regard to priming, the release of superoxide and elastase, and chemotaxis. Neutrophils were incubated with VT1 or VT2 and superoxide and elastase release was measured over 120 and 45 minutes respectively. Priming was investigated by pre-treating the neutrophils with VT1 or VT2, exposing them to formyl-met-leu-phe (fMLP) or phorbol myristic acid (PMA) and measuring superoxide release. Neutrophil chemotaxis towards fMLP was assessed with and without pre-incubation with VT1 and VT2. We found that neither of the toxins induced superoxide or elastase release. Priming with VT1 significantly reduced superoxide release when neutrophils were stimulated with fMLP or PMA. VT2 priming gave a reduced superoxide release with PMA but not fMLP. Heat-inactivation of the toxins gave similar results. Pre-treatment of neutrophils with VT1 or VT2 did not affect chemotaxis towards fMLP after a 2-hour incubation period. In conclusion, VT1 and VT2 do not activate primed neutrophils in vitro. Nor do they affect chemotaxis towards fMLP. They may impair neutrophil priming.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1237-1244
Number of pages8
JournalPediatric Nephrology
Issue number9
Early online date10 Jun 2005
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2005


  • superoxide
  • protein synthesis inhibition
  • priming
  • elastase
  • verocytotoxin (Shiga-like toxin)
  • neutrophils
  • chemotaxis


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