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Research Article

IDENTITY OF THE TOXINS OF DIFFERENT STRAINS OF BACILLUS WELCHII AND FACTORS INFLUENCING THEIR PRODUCTION IN VITRO



Abstract

Twenty-two additional strains of Bacillus welchii have been collected from widely different sources and tested with regard to toxin production. Each strain produces a toxin which, on animal inoculation, gives rise to lesions comparable in every respect to those produced by the toxins previously reported on, and each toxin was neutralized by an immune (antitoxic) serum produced with one of the former toxins. The toxins obtained from the several individual strains varied in potency, the lethal dose ranging from 0.3 to 3 cc. Experiments have been made to determine the influence of fresh muscle and glucose on toxin production and the relation of acidity to toxicity in the filtrates. It has been found that the addition of fresh muscle to the medium increases the potency of the toxin fivefold. Autoclaved muscle is without effect. Beef infusion broth containing 0.2 to 1 per cent glucose gives a more potent product than sugar-free broth, while when higher percentages are employed the toxin production is lowered. There is no direct relation between acidity and toxicity, the most acid products manifesting little or no toxic action. In every medium used for culture the potency of the filtrates rapidly diminished after 24 hours' incubation, while the acidity increased or remained constant. The exception to this rule has been pointed out. The most active toxin is obtained by growing a virulent strain of the bacilli in a 0.2 or 0.3 per cent glucose broth to which fragments of fresh muscle have been added, and collecting the filtrate after from 18 to 24 hours' incubation. A review of the literature on the pathogenic effects and toxic products of Bacillus welchii and on the results of immunization of animals with the bacilli or toxic products does not indicate that the exotoxic nature of Bacillus welchii had been previously determined or an antitoxic serum in the true sense produced. The antitoxin for Bacillus welchii toxin can apparently be prepared from a single strain of the organism which yields under the conditions described a high titer of toxin, and this antitoxin can be employed to combat infection with or prevent infection by any strain whatever of the bacillus.


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