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Exp Parasitol. 2001 Oct;99(2):89-96.

Toxoplasma gondii: cold stress-induced modulation of antibody responses.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona 87011, USA.


Physical or psychological stressors have been shown to have significant consequences in the immune function and the outcome of disease in human and animal models. Recent work has demonstrated that products released during stress, such as glucocorticoids and catecholamines, can profoundly influence the in vitro growth of pathogens by modulating immune responses. The present study examined the effects of a physical stressor (cold stress) on antigens of Toxoplasma gondii that elicits an antibody-mediated immune response during the acute and chronic phases of infection. Sera obtained from different groups of mice subjected to cold stress during the acute and chronic phases of T. gondii infection were used to measure the levels of antibodies and to localize by Western blot the dominant antigens eliciting IgG and IgM antibody responses. Serum antibodies collected from stressed and infected mice recognized antigens different from those recognized by infected mice without stress. During the acute phase, a stronger IgM antibody response against antigens of 30, 42, 54, and 60 kDa was detected in stressed animals at 3 weeks postinfection. In addition, a 5-kDa antigen was specifically detected in mice subjected to stress during the acute and chronic phases of infection. Levels of specific IgG were increased in infected and in infected and stressed animals that underwent stress in the chronic phase. IgM production did not increase following cold stress in the chronic phase. These results suggest that the strong antibody response in stressed animals is associated with longer parasite persistence in circulation. Stress modulated not only the host immune response but also the ability of parasite antigens to elicit specific antibody responses by the host.

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