There are two ways that toxins are released into the environment. Some cells will secrete toxins while other cells will release toxins upon cell lysis. Exotoxins are secreted by the cell while endotoxins are released upon cell lysis. Endotoxins are usually a lipopolysaccharide or a cell wall protein. There are three ways for exotoxins or endotoxins to have a toxic effect on the host:
- Lipolysaccharide (LPS) is a superantigen causing septicemia (toxic shock).
- Enterotoxins affect the GI tract.
- Cytotoxin destroys cells by inhibiting protein synthesis or damaging membranes.