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Vet Res. 2013 Oct 2;44:89. doi: 10.1186/1297-9716-44-89.

Heme oxygenase-1 activity is involved in the control of Toxoplasma gondii infection in the lung of BALB/c and C57BL/6 and in the small intestine of C57BL/6 mice.

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Laboratory of Immunopathology, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Federal University of Uberlândia, Uberlândia, MG, Brazil.


Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) is an enzyme that catabolizes free heme, which induces an intense inflammatory response. The expression of HO-1 is induced by different stimuli, triggering an anti-inflammatory response during biological stress. It was previously verified that HO-1 is able to induce indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), an enzyme that is induced by IFN-γ in Toxoplasma gondii infection. To verify the role of HO-1 during in vivo T. gondii infection, BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice were infected with the ME49 strain and treated with zinc protoporphyrin IX (ZnPPIX) or hemin, which inhibit or induce HO-1 activity, respectively. The results show that T. gondii infection induced high levels of HO-1 expression in the lung of BALB/c and C57BL6 mice. The animals treated with ZnPPIX presented higher parasitism in the lungs of both lineages of mice, whereas hemin treatment decreased the parasite replication in this organ and in the small intestine of infected C57BL/6 mice. Furthermore, C57BL/6 mice infected with T. gondii and treated with hemin showed higher levels of IDO expression in the lungs and small intestine than uninfected mice. In conclusion, our data suggest that HO-1 activity is involved in the control of T. gondii in the lungs of both mouse lineages, whereas the hemin, a HO-1 inducer, seems to be involved in the control of parasitism in the small intestine of C57BL/6 mice.

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