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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 May 21;110(21):E1913-22. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1220272110. Epub 2013 May 6.

Motile invaded neutrophils in the small intestine of Toxoplasma gondii-infected mice reveal a potential mechanism for parasite spread.

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Division of Immunology and Pathogenesis, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


Toxoplasma gondii infection occurs through the oral route, but we lack important information about how the parasite interacts with the host immune system in the intestine. We used two-photon laser-scanning microscopy in conjunction with a mouse model of oral T. gondii infection to address this issue. T. gondii established discrete foci of infection in the small intestine, eliciting the recruitment and transepithelial migration of neutrophils and inflammatory monocytes. Neutrophils accounted for a high proportion of actively invaded cells, and we provide evidence for a role for transmigrating neutrophils and other immune cells in the spread of T. gondii infection through the lumen of the intestine. Our data identify neutrophils as motile reservoirs of T. gondii infection and suggest a surprising retrograde pathway for parasite spread in the intestine.


dynamic imaging; gut; mucosal immunology; neutrophil motility

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