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Parasite. 2017;24:45. doi: 10.1051/parasite/2017051. Epub 2017 Nov 27.

Exogenous tumor necrosis factor-alpha could induce egress of Toxoplasma gondii from human foreskin fibroblast cells.

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Department of Microbiology and Parasitology, Anhui Provincial Laboratory of Microbiology and Parasitology; Laboratory of Tropical and Parasitic Diseases Control; Anhui Medical University, Hefei, Anhui 230032, China.


Toxoplasma gondii is an intra-cellular protozoan parasite that can infect almost all nucleated cells, eliciting host immune responses against infection. Host tissue damage is mainly caused by cellular lysis when T. gondii egresses from infected cells. However, the effects of cytokines released by host immune cells on egression of T. gondii remain elusive. This study aimed to investigate the role of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) on the egress of T. gondii from infected human foreskin fibroblast (HFF) cells and to elucidate the underlying mechanisms that regulate TNF-α-induced egress. Using flow cytometry to count tachyzoites of T. gondii released into cell culture medium, we found that egress of T. gondii from infected HFF cells could be induced by 10 ng/mL TNF-α in a time-dependent manner. Pre-treatment of infected HFF cells with BAPTA-AM to chelate intra-parasitic calcium could greatly inhibit TNF-α-induced egress. Similar results were obtained when using cytochalasin D to block parasite motility before the TNF-α-induced egress assay. In addition, blocking host apoptosis by Z-VAD-FMK could decrease TNF-α induced egress, while blocking necroptosis by necrostatin-1 has little impact on TNF-α-induced egress. The egressed tachyzoites displayed a normal growth rate and lost no virulence. Our results suggest that host cytokines could influence the cellular lytic processes of T. gondii, providing new insights into the relationship between host TNF-α and T. gondii pathogenesis.

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