When tetanus toxin is made by fermentation with Clostridium tetani, the traditional source of iron is an insoluble preparation called reduced iron powder. This material removes oxygen from the system by forming FeO(2) (rust). When inoculated in a newly developed medium lacking animal and dairy products and containing glucose, soy-peptone, and inorganic salts, growth and toxin production were poor without reduced iron powder. The optimum concentration of reduced iron powder for toxin production was found to be 0.5 g/l. Growth was further increased by higher concentrations, but toxin production decreased. Inorganic iron sources failed to replace reduced iron powder for growth or toxin formation. The iron source that came closest was ferrous ammonium sulfate. The organic iron sources ferric citrate and ferrous gluconate were more active than the inorganic compounds but could not replace reduced iron powder. Insoluble iron sources, such as iron wire, iron foil, and activated charcoal, were surprisingly active. Combinations of activated charcoal with soluble iron sources such as ferrous sulfate, ferric citrate, and ferrous gluconate showed increased activity, and the ferrous gluconate combination almost replaced reduced iron powder. It thus appears that the traditional iron source, reduced iron powder, plays a double role in supporting tetanus toxin formation, i.e., releasing soluble sources of iron and providing an insoluble surface.
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