Verotoxin glycolipid receptors determine the localization of microangiopathic process in rabbits given verotoxin-1

Carla Zoja, Daniela Corna, Claudio Farina, Giuseppe Sacchi, Clifford Lingwood, Michael P. Doyle, Vikas V. Padhye, Mauro Abbate, Giuseppe Remuzzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Infection with verotoxin-producing Escherichia coli has been implicated in the cause of hemolytic-uremic syndrome. Cases of thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura and verotoxin infections have been also described. In this study we sought to determine the following: (1) whether verotoxin induces microvascular lesions in the rabbit, (2) the organ distribution of such lesions, and (3) the distribution of verotoxin glycolipid receptors in the various organs. Rabbits challenged with verotoxin-1 purified from E. coli 0157:H7 had anorexia, lethargia, and limb paralysis; renal function, however, was normal. Central nervous system lesions found included pericellular and perivascular edema, focal hemorrhage, vascular lesions, and severe alterations of Purkinje cells. Histologic changes were also seen in the colon, with mucosal and submucosal edema and hemorrhage, and in the lung, with interstitial fibrosis and focal lymphohistiocitic infiltration. No lesions were detected in kidney, heart, liver, and spleen. Screening of various tissues for the presence of the verotoxin receptors revealed galabiosyl ceramide in the central nervous system and globotriosyl ceramide in the gastrointestinal tract, lung, and spleen. No receptors for verotoxin were found in the heart, liver, and kidney. These results indicate that organ localization of the disease in rabbits is dependent on the distribution of verotoxin receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-238
Number of pages10
JournalThe Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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