Epsilon Toxin: A Fascinating Pore Forming Toxin That Crosses The Blood Brain Barrier

January 11, 2016


By: Md. Elias Ph.D, Senior Scientist

epsilon toxin

Epsilon Toxin Linked to Multiple Sclerosis

List Labs recently added Product #126A, pure Native C. perfringens Epsilon Toxin to its product line. Although Epsilon Toxin related pathology and disease are common in farm animals and rare in humans, recent studies suggest potential involvement of this toxin with Human Multiple Sclerosis (MS), an inflammatory disease of the CNS currently affecting 2.5 million people worldwide with diverse neurological symptoms such as autonomic, motor, and sensory problems.

Epsilon Toxin used in Cell Signaling

Aside from this toxin’s pathologic significance to understand and treat MS, it can be used as valuable reagent and tool in the field of cell signaling. Unlike other inhibitory neurotoxins, Epsilon Toxin can be used to stimulate dopamine and glutametargic neurons. The toxin has been shown to be sensitive to MDCK cells and bind to the brain endothelial cells. Epsilon Toxin has been reported to be used as delivery vehicle to facilitate the transport of drugs through the blood brain barrier for the treatment of experimental malignant brain tumors in mice. Epsilon toxin is also classified as a category B bio-threat agent by the CDC due to its potent toxicity and potential for malice and the purified epsilon toxin will be a valuable reagent in vaccine development and bio-defense research.

Epsilon Toxin is controlled by the US Department of Commerce and an export license is required for international shipments. However, it is not one of the Select Agents & Toxins regulated by the CDC and the USDA.


9 responses to “Epsilon Toxin: A Fascinating Pore Forming Toxin That Crosses The Blood Brain Barrier”

  1. Agi Sax says:

    Is there any way to test someone for this toxin?
    I’ve found some options but mostly for animals and I’m afraid these tests might not be useful for humans.
    There is a person suffering from MS with persistent GI symptoms and I suspect underlying bacterial infection.
    I’d appreciate your response.


    • List Labs says:

      Hi Agi Sax,

      Thanks for your interest in epsilon toxin. First, I want you to know that the toxin is a research reagent, not for use in humans and not for diagnosis of disease. By providing this reagent, we expect to encourage research which will eventually help patients like your friend with MS. We are unaware of any available diagnostic tests so we recommend searching on your own.

      I understand why you believe epsilon toxin may be important in MS. Scientists have suspected epsilon toxin involvement with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) based on these lines of evidence: First, C. perfringens type B that produces epsilon toxin has been isolated from a patient who was experiencing a flare-up of her MS. Second, epsilon toxin is known to bind and kill the brain’s endothelium cells and oligodendrocytes (myelin producing cells), the same cells that die in MS lesions. Third, epsilon toxin has been found to bind to the retinal vasculature and kill meningeal cells; meningeal inflammation and subpial cortical lesions are known pathologies associated with MS.

      Experiments have been carried out to determine the presence of epsilon toxin in sera from two tissue banks of MS patients. Scientists have found that immunoreactivity to epsilon toxin is 10 times more prevalent in people with MS than the healthy control (ref. article Rashid Rumah K et al. 2013. PLOS ONE Vol. 8, Issue 10. e76359). Indeed, there are some counter arguments and I have added two links here:

      To my knowledge, there are no FDA approved antibodies against epsilon toxin that can be used for MS patients. Indeed, these antibodies need to cross the blood brain barrier (BBB) in order to reach to the CNS and neutralize the toxin.

      I hope this response will help you find an approved test for either C. perfringens or epsilon toxin. Thank you.

      M.D. Elias, Ph.D.

  2. Mhedayatich says:

    How can I buy this toxin?

  3. mhedayatich says:

    thank you very much

  4. Judy Shem says:

    A researcher at GWU developed the Redichip.

    This chip is already being produced and shipped nationwide. The chip provides a quick way to analyze molecules that may be a threat to people and environments.

  5. Judy says:

    Protea was distributing the Redichip produced by Akos Vertes. They stopped distributing the chip and offered no reason when I called the company. They spray listed below may work with other chips. Not sure. You would need to call the company in West Virginia. You can google Redichip and GWU to read about this.

    During 2008-2012, Protea expanded its position in the Bioanalytics market by entering into an exclusive, worldwide license agreement with The George Washington University for the revolutionary LAESI® (Laser Ablation Electrospray Ionization) technology platform. Invented in the laboratory of Akos Vertes, PhD., Professor of Chemistry and founder and co-director of the W.M. Keck Institute for Proteomics Technology, at The George Washington University. LAESI is a breakthrough technology that enables the identification of biomolecules (proteins, lipids, metabolites) in tissue sections and cells, without requiring any sample preparation. Results are available in seconds to minutes, and comprehensive, permanent molecular databases can be generated on all types of biological samples.

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