Frontiers in Bioscience-Elite (FBE) is published by IMR Press from Volume 13 Issue 2 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
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Academic Editor: Herbert B. Tanowitz
Bacillus anthracis releases two bipartite proteins, lethal toxin and edema factor, that contribute significantly to the progression of anthrax-associated shock. As blocking the anthrax toxins prevents disease, the toxins are considered the main virulence factors of the bacterium. The anthrax bacterium and the anthrax toxins trigger multi-organ failure associated with enhanced vascular permeability, hemorrhage and cardiac dysfunction in animal challenge models. A recent study using mice that either lacked the anthrax toxin receptor in specific cells and corresponding mice expressing the receptor in specific cell types demonstrated that cardiovascular cells are critical for disease mediated by anthrax lethal toxin. These studies are consistent with involvement of the cardiovascular system, and with an increase of cardiac failure markers observed in human anthrax and in animal models using B. anthracis and anthrax toxins. This review discusses the current state of knowledge regarding the pathophysiology of anthrax and tries to provide a mechanistic model and molecular determinants for the circulatory shock in anthrax.