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Infect Immun. 2004 Jun;72(6):3571-6.

Infection with Toxoplasma gondii increases atherosclerotic lesion in ApoE-deficient mice.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Immunology, Institute of Biological Sciences, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.


Toxoplasma gondii is an intracellular protozoan that elicits a potent inflammatory response during the acute phase of infection. Herein, we evaluate whether T. gondii infection alters the natural course of aortic lesions. ApoE knockout mice were infected with T. gondii, and at 5 weeks of infection, serum, feces, and liver cholesterol; aortic lesion size, cellularity, and inflammatory cytokines; and levels of serum nitrite and gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) were analyzed. Our results showed that serum cholesterol and atherogenic lipoproteins were reduced after T. gondii infection. The reduction of serum levels of total cholesterol and atherogenic lipoproteins was associated with increases in the aortic lesion area, numbers of inflammatory cells, and expression of monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 and inducible nitric oxide synthase mRNA in the site of lesions as well as elevated concentrations of IFN-gamma and nitrite in sera of T. gondii-infected animals. These results suggest that infection with T. gondii accelerates atherosclerotic development by stimulating the proinflammatory response and oxidative stress, thereby increasing the area of aortic lesion.

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