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Exp Parasitol. 2007 Jul;116(3):302-5. Epub 2007 Jan 25.

Toxoplasma gondii: inconsistent dissemination patterns following oral infection in mice.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Since Toxoplasma gondii is transmitted in the wild through the ingestion of infective cysts, oral infection is a preferred model for studying the natural mode of parasite dissemination and pathogenesis. Using luciferase-expressing strains of T. gondii and in vivo imaging, we observed different patterns of disease progression in mice depending of the method of oral infection. Oral gavage of infective cysts (e.g., bradyzoites) resulted in an inconsistent pattern of parasite dissemination; in the majority (20/29) of infected mice, luciferase-derived signal (indicating high numbers of Toxoplasma tachyzoites) was first observed in the right chest area. At later time points this signal spread to other parts of the mouse, including the abdominal area. In the remaining mice (9/29), parasites were first observed replicating in the abdominal area, as might be expected. In contrast, when mice were infected naturally (either via ingestion of whole brains from previously infected mice or brain cyst homogenate-soaked bread), parasites were first observed replicating in the abdominal area in all mice examined (10/10). Based on the inconsistency of infections initiated with oral gavage, it is recommended that natural feeding be used to infect mice when a consistent oral infection is desired.

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