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The penetration of Toxoplasma in the brain

Video 19.02.2016 at 15:31


The First in the history of medicine observation of the penetration of Toxoplasma in the brain. Video: University of Pennsylvania

Toxoplasma gondii is one of the most prevalent unicellular parasites, and about 30% of people in the world infected them. However, usually people live with this infection without any consequences. Toxoplasmosis, the disease begins when the body is weakened, it suppressed the immune system after radiation therapy for cancer or as a result of HIV.

it is Known that Toxoplasma gondii can affect the brain and change the behavior of their owners. So, it is established that mice and rats with Toxoplasma are less afraid of cats, it is known that infected rats are searching for the cat scent marks.

But it was still unclear how the parasite gets into the brain, because between blood and pathogens, even much smaller than a unicellular organism is the blood-brain barrier.

the Team from the University of Pennsylvania for the first time managed to shoot how to overcome the barrier by the parasite. To do this, the team used genetically modified mice and Toxoplasma. Endothelial cells of the brain of mice expressible green fluorescent protein, Toxoplasma — red. The observation was conducted using a multiphoton microscope. Infecting the mice with Toxoplasma, the researchers a week later I saw parasites in the endothelial cells, and a week — in the brain tissues, adjacent to the endothelium.

According to the researchers, Toxoplasma rapidly at first (up to a maximum for 10 days) multiplies in the bloodstream, then enters directly in the endothelial cells of the brain, whence spreads to the brain tissues. The previous hypothesis of the "Trojan horse" by which Toxoplasma infects monocytes and crosses the blood-brain barrier, was not confirmed.

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