The host response to anthrax lethal toxin: unexpected observations

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Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax, is believed to induce disease and death in humans in an endotoxic shock-like manner. A comprehensive study (see the related article beginning on page 670) of the effects of anthrax toxin in mice demonstrates that toxin-induced death is mediated not by cytokine release, as previously thought, but by hypoxia-induced liver failure. The study strongly suggests that the therapies developed for treatment of cytokine-mediated septic shock will not be appropriate for the treatment of anthrax.

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