Oral Infection of C57BL/6 Mice withToxoplasma gondii: A New Model of Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

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Infection with Toxoplasma gondii is naturally acquired through the oral route by ingestion of undercooked or raw meat containing cysts of the parasite or through ingestion of contaminated water or food contaminated with cysts or oocysts. Following peroral infection with 100 cysts of the ME49 strain of T. gondii, C57BL/6 mice die within 13 days after infection, whereas BALB/c mice survive. At day 7 of infection, massive necrosis of the villi and mucosal cells in the ilea is observed in C57BL/6 but not BALB/c mice. CD4+ T cells, interferon-γ, tumor necrosis factor-α, and inducible nitric oxide synthase mediate the development of necrosis. These findings indicate a Th1-type immunopathology, with parasite replication appearing to be involved in the first 3 days of infection. Murine and human studies on the immunopathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease (e.g., Crohn's disease) also indicate a Th1-type immunopathology. The shared and distinct features of oral infection of mice with T. gondii and murine models of inflammatory bowel disease are discussed herein.

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