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News Archive

10 November 2008

Detection of staphylococcal exotoxins - Toxic Shock Syndrome update

Oxoid kits are available for the detection of bacterial toxins, including the staphylococcal exotoxins that are primarily responsible for toxic shock syndrome.Oxoid kits are available for the detection of bacterial toxins, including the staphylococcal exotoxins that are primarily responsible for toxic shock syndrome.

As recent research shows promising results for a potential new treatment for toxic shock syndrome1, it is important to take stock of the tools currently available to clinical scientists to diagnose this life-threatening condition.

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare, but potentially fatal condition, usually caused by exotoxin-producing strains of Staphylococcus aureus. The predominant staphylococcal exotoxins that are responsible for TSS are Toxic Shock Syndrome Toxin 1 (TSST-1), in about 75 percent of cases, and staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB), in about 25 percent of cases2. Those most at risk of developing toxic shock syndrome include menstruating women, women using barrier contraceptive devices, post-operative patients and burns patients2,3.

The identification of Staphylococcus aureus alone is not sufficient to attribute a case of toxic shock syndrome, since there are strains of S. aureus that are not toxin-producing. However, it is possible to confirm a clinical diagnosis by detecting the production of toxin in isolated strains.  Toxic shock syndrome toxins can be detected reliably by reversed passive latex agglutination (RPLA) using Oxoid TST-RPLA (TD0940) for the detection of TSST-1 and Oxoid SET-RPLA (TD0900) for the detection of staphylococcal enterotoxins A, B, C and D.

Oxoid RPLA Toxin Detection Kits allow the presence of soluble antigen, such as bacterial toxins, to be detected visually by the agglutination of antibody-coated latex particles. Performed in V-well microtitre plates, a positive result is indicated by the formation of a clearly visible lattice structure.  In the absence of target antigen, the latex particles settle in a tight button in the bottom of the well.

Julie Elston, applications manager, clinical markets, Oxoid, commented, “Oxoid RPLA Toxin Detection Kits allow clinical laboratories to detect bacterial toxins without the need for complicated equipment or special expertise. This could be of great value in determining the cause of Toxic Shock Syndrome and may help in making therapeutic decisions as a wider choice of treatments become available.”

For further information please speak to your local representative of Oxoid products or access the product details for Oxoid RPLA Toxin Detection Kits.


  1. Buonpane, R.A., Churchill, H.R.O., Moza, B., et al (2007) Nature Medicine 13:725-729
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