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J Immunol. 1996 Feb 15;156(4):1476-81.

Contribution of nitric oxide to the host parasite equilibrium in toxoplasmosis.

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  • 1Laboratory of Immunology, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


We studied the effect of nitric oxide (NO) production on the evolution of toxoplasmosis in C57BL/6 mice. Infection was induced by i.p. injection of Toxoplasma gondii strain ME49. NO synthesis was inhibited by treatment with aminoguanidine, a structural analogue of L-arginine. The severity of infection was evaluated by histopathologic examination of the brain. In the infected mice treated for 2 wk with aminoguanidine, we observed an increase in the number of toxoplasma tachyzoites and intracellular cysts accompanied by an exacerbated inflammation of the brain tissue compared with that in controls. When spleen cells from infected mice were stimulated in culture with toxoplasma Ag, there was a marked cytotoxic effect on cells collected during the acute stage of infection and an inhibition of proliferation of the remaining viable lymphocytes. These effects were correlated with high levels of NO and PGE2 production. The suppression of NO synthesis prevented cell death and restored the lymphocyte proliferative response as well as lymphokine production. The neutralization of IFN-gamma or TNF-alpha had no effect on NO production in the cultures of infected mouse spleen cells. Cultures in which purified macrophages and lymphocytes from infected and naive mice were mixed indicated that the production of NO was dependent on lymphocyte activation. In the later stages of infection, when the production of NO was abating, preventing PGE2 secretion with indomethacin also increased the lymphocyte proliferative response. We conclude that the opposing effects of NO in toxoplasmosis, which protects against Toxoplasma gondii and at the same time limits the immune response, probably contribute to the establishment of the characteristic chronic state of host parasite equilibrium.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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