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Parasite Immunol. 2008 Jun-Jul;30(6-7):323-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3024.2008.01029.x. Epub 2008 Apr 21.

Control of Toxoplasma gondii infection by athymic LEW-Whn rnu rats.

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Institute for Virology and Immunobiology, Julius-Maximilians-University Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany.


In immunocompetent rats and humans infection with Toxoplasma gondii remains mostly without overt clinical symptoms, but can be fatal, if the T-cell response is impaired. For a better understanding of the lack of control of T. gondii infection under immunosuppressed conditions, congenitally athymic rats were used as the experimental model. Whereas athymic F344-Whn(rnu) (F344 nude) rats die from a generalized infection during the first 3 weeks after peritoneal inoculation with 10(6) tachyzoites of T. gondii strain NTE, LEW-Whn(rnu) (LEW nude) rats and euthymic LEW rats infected with a 10-fold higher number of parasites developed chronic infection. To identify underlying mechanisms of LEW rats resistance to T. gondii infection and to investigate a possible contribution of residual T-cells to LEW-Whn(rnu) rat resistance, we characterized the immune response of LEW rats by determination of cellularity and composition of lymphocyte population, antigen-specific IgG2b response as well as assays of antigen-specific proliferation and production of IL-2, IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha. As only euthymic LEW rats developed production of antigen-specific IgG and cellular in vitro responses, these results strongly suggest that the genetic background of LEW rats permits a control of the infection independent of an adaptive immune response.

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