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Int J Parasitol. 2004 Apr;34(5):543-8.

The role of astrocytes in the immunopathogenesis of toxoplasmic encephalitis.

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Department of Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6008, USA.


Challenge with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii eventually leads to persistent infection characterised by the presence of tissue cysts in the brain of the host. In immunocompetent individuals the parasite rarely leads to disease but in the immunocompromised host reactivation of these cysts can lead to toxoplasmic encephalitis. It is known that both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells are important in preventing reactivation of the parasite, however there is also evidence that astrocytes, a subset of glial cells dominant in the CNS, may be important in resistance to T. gondii. The aim of this paper is to review what is known about the immune functions of astrocytes, and the possible role they may play during toxoplasmic encephalitis.

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