Pathogenesis of antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD)—a systematic review

Vijairam Selvaraj, The University of Texas School of Public Health


A common complication of antibiotic use is the development of diarrheal illness. The pathogenesis of antibiotic associated diarrhea (AAD) may be mediated through alteration of intestinal microbiota, overgrowth of opportunistic pathogens, and direct drug toxicity on the gut. Alterations in the intestinal microbiota result in metabolic imbalances, loss of colonization resistance and in turn allow proliferation of opportunistic pathogens. Currently less than 33% of AAD cases can be attributable to Clostridium difficile leaving a large number of cases undiagnosed and poorly treated. Although the pathogenesis of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) has been well documented, the role of other putative microbial etiologies (Clostridium perfringens, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella oxytoca, Candida species) and their pathogenic mechanisms in AAD has been unclear. This review provides a comprehensive and systematic approach to the existing data on AAD and includes concise descriptions of the pathogenesis of CDI and non-CDI AAD in the form of figures.

Subject Area

Medicine|Public health|Epidemiology

Recommended Citation

Selvaraj, Vijairam, "Pathogenesis of antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD)—a systematic review" (2012). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1515607.