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J Infect Dis. 2004 Apr 1;189(7):1274-81. Epub 2004 Mar 12.

Congenital transmission of Trypanosoma cruzi is associated with maternal enhanced parasitemia and decreased production of interferon- gamma in response to parasite antigens.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Parasitologie, Faculte de Medecine, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium.


The conditions and mechanisms of congenital transmission of Trypanosoma cruzi remain largely unknown. In the present study, we compared the parasitic loads and the immune responses of pregnant T. cruzi-infected women who transmitted parasites to their fetus ("M+B+ mothers") with those of such women who did not transmit parasites to their fetus ("M+B- mothers"). M+B+ mothers had a higher frequency of positive results of hemoculture for T. cruzi than did M+B- mothers, in association with depressed production of parasite-specific interferon- gamma by blood cells that persisted after delivery. In contrast, the production of interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4, and IL-10 and transforming growth factor- beta 1 was similar between both groups of infected mothers, after stimulation with T. cruzi lysate. Flow cytometric analysis showed that T cells and monocytes of M+B+ mothers were less activated than were those of M+B- mothers. Altogether, these results indicate that congenital transmission of T. cruzi is associated with high parasitic loads and peripheral deficient immunological responses in mothers.

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