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Int J Neurosci. 2009;119(10):1655-92.

Mollaret meningitis may be caused by reactivation of latent cerebral toxoplasmosis.

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  • 1Pediatrics & Clinical Pharmacology, Department of Social Pediatrics, Faculty of Public Health, University Medical School, Wroclaw, Poland.


Mollaret meningitis (MM) occurs mainly in females and is characterized by recurrent episodes of headache, transient neurological abnormalities, and the cerebrospinal fluid containing mononuclear cells. HSV-2 was usually identified as the causative agent. Recently, we found that recurrent headaches in non-HIV-infected subjects were due to acquired cerebral toxoplasmosis (CT). The aim of the study was therefore to focus on molecular pathomechanisms that may lead to reactivation of latent CT and manifest as MM. Literature data cited in this work were selected to illustrate that various factors may affect latent CNS Toxoplasma gondii infection/inflammation intensity and/or host defense mechanisms, i.e., the production of NO, cytokines, tryptophan degradation by indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase, mechanisms mediated by an IFN-gamma responsive gene family, limiting the availability of intracellular iron to T. gondii, and production of reactive oxygen/nitrogen species, finally inducing choroid plexitis and/or vasculitis. Examples of triggers revealing MM and accompanying disturbances of IFN-gamma-mediated immune responses that control HSV-2 and T. gondii include: female predominance (female mice are more susceptible to T. gondii infection than males); HSV-2 infection (increased IFN-gamma, IL-12); metaraminol (increased plasma catecholamine levels, changes in cytokine expression favoring T(H)2 cells responses); probably cholesterol contained in debris from ruptured epidermoid cysts (decreased NO; increased TNF-alpha, IL-6, IL-8). These irregularities induced by the triggers may be responsible for reactivation of latent CT and development of MM. Thus, subjects with MM should have test(s) for T. gondii infection performed obligatorily.

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