• horse;
  • clostridial toxins;
  • endotoxaemia;
  • smectite


Reasons for performing study: Clostridial colitis and endotoxaemia of intestinal origin are significant causes of morbidity and mortality in horses. Intestinal adsorbents are available for treatment of these conditions; however, little information exists supporting their use.

Objectives: To evaluate the ability of di-tri-octahedral smectite to bind to Clostridium difficile toxins A and B, C. perfringens enterotoxin and endotoxin, inhibit clostridial growth and the actions of metronidazole in vitro.

Methods: Clostridium difficile toxins, C. perfringens enterotoxin and endotoxin were mixed with serial dilutions of di-tri-octahedral smectite, then tested for the presence of clostridial toxins or endotoxin using commercial tests. Serial dilutions of smectite were tested for the ability to inhibit growth of C. perfringens in culture broth, and to interfere with the effect of metronidazole on growth of C. perfringens in culture broth.

Results: Clostridium difficile toxins A and B, and C. perfringens enterotoxin were completely bound at dilutions of 1:2 to 1:16. Partial binding of C. difficile toxins occurred at dilutions up to 1:256 while partial binding of C. perfringens enterotoxin occurred up to a dilution of 1:128. Greater than 99% binding of endotoxin occurred with dilutions 1:2 to 1:32. No inhibition of growth of C. difficile or C. perfringens was present at any dilution, and there was no effect on the action of metronidazole.

Conclusions: Di-tri-octahedral smectite possesses the ability to bind C. difficile toxins A and B, C. perfringens enterotoxin and endotoxin in vivo while having no effect on bacterial growth or the action of metronidazole.

Potential relevance: In vivo studies are required to determine whether di-tri-octahedral smectite might be a useful adjunctive treatment of clostridial colifis and endotoxaemia in horses.