Background: Shigatoxin (Stx)-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) are the most common causes of hemolytic uremic syndrome (STEC-HUS). The aim of our study is to compare the risk of developing STEC-HUS in relation to the type of Stx genes (Stx1, Stx2, or both). Methods: This is a prospective, observational, multicenter study involving 63 pediatric units in Northern Italy (ItalKid-HUS Network). STEC-infected children were identified within a screening program for bloody diarrhea during a 10-year period (2010–2019). Stx genes were detected by reverse dot blot or real-time PCR. After the identification of STEC infection, children were followed until diarrhea complete recovery for the possible development of STEC-HUS. Results: Of the 214 Stx-positive patients, 34 (15.9%) developed STEC-HUS. The risk of HUS in STEC-infected children with Stx1 (n: 62; 29.0%) and Stx2 (n: 97; 45.3%) was respectively 0% and 23.7%, while in patients carrying both Stx1 and Stx2 (n: 55; 25.7%), the risk was 12.7% (p: 0.001). Conclusions: Our data confirm that Stx1 is a very rare cause of STEC-HUS and demonstrate that the risk of STEC-HUS halves in the case of Stx1+2-producing Escherichia coli infection compared with infections where Stx2 is present alone. This observation is helpful in assessing the risk of individual STEC-infected patients for the development of HUS and suggests that Stx1, in the presence of Stx2, might exert a protective role possibly by receptor competition.
- Hemolytic uremic syndrome
- Shiga toxin
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health