The factors present in streptococcal lesion extracts (SLE) which enhanced the lethal and tissue-damaging properties of Gram-negative bacterial endotoxins and streptolysin O were identified with the scarlet fever group of toxins.
Toxic manifestations attributed to this group of toxins included lethality, cardiotoxic and other tissue damage, enhancement of toxicity, and pyrogenicity. Of these, the measurement of febrile response in American Dutch rabbits was the most useful parameter of toxicity.
In rabbits, repeated daily intravenous injections of 0.125 Lf of a purified erythrogenic toxin immunizes specifically against the pyrogenic activity; this technique was used to type the toxins and to distinguish them from exogenous and endogenous pyrogens; non-specific pyrogens, such as streptococcal endotoxin, were not found in SLE.
All types of the Lancefield Group A streptococci tested produced one or or more immunologically distinct toxins in vivo in contrast to Groups B and C which did not produce them; toxins A and B, previously distinguished by neutralization of rash-inducing activity in the skin, were produced in vivo. The A toxin was the most common, as indicated by its presence in extracts prepared with Types 28, 12, 17, and 10 (NY-5); B toxin was found in 10 (NY-5) and 19. A new toxin, designated C, was obtained from a Type 18.
In American Dutch rabbits, purified toxin at a concentration of 15 Lf (900,000 STD) neither gave a Dick test nor prepared the skin for the local Shwartzman reaction; by this route, however, in contrast to classical endotoxins, they enhance the lethal and tissue-damaging properties of sublethal doses of these and other toxins.
These properties of the immunologic distinct exotoxins as demonstrated in American Dutch rabbits suggest by analogy their importance in the pathogenesis of streptococcal disease in man. Evidence that might implicate them in sequelae, in addition to scarlet fever, is discussed.