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Infection and Immunity


Geisel School of Medicine


Genetic factors determining the pathogenesis and course of ocular toxoplasmosis are poorly understood. In this study, we explored the development of experimental ocular pathogenesis in genetically dissimilar mice infected with either the RH strain, the PLK strain, or the immunodominant surface antigen 1 (SAG1 [P30])-deficient mutant of the RH strain of Toxoplasma gondii. At 11 days postinfection, ocular infection of C57BL/6 mice with all of the strains of parasites resulted in severe inflammatory lesions and high numbers of parasites in eye tissue; less severe ocular lesions at earlier histopathology and prolonged survival were observed in this mouse strain infected with either the major surface antigen 1-deficient SAG1−/− strain or the less virulent PLK strain compared with RH infection. In contrast, both BALB/c and CBA/J mice had less severe lesions and low numbers of parasites in their eye tissue, and infection developed into the chronic stage in these mice. There were significantly higher serum levels of gamma interferon and tumor necrosis factor alpha in C57BL/6 mice than in BALB/c and CBA/J mice following ocular infection. These observations confirm earlier reports on systemic immunity to these parasites that the route of Toxoplasma infection markedly influences survival of mice. Our data indicate that genetic factors of the host as well as the parasite strain are critical in determining susceptibility to experimental ocular toxoplasmosis in murine models.