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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Role of NK cells and gamma interferon in transplacental passage of Toxoplasma gondii in a mouse model of primary infection.

Protective immunity in mice infected with Toxoplasma gondii is mainly mediated by NK cells, CD4 and CD8 T cells, and type 1 cytokines, such as gamma interferon (IFN-gamma). To clarify the roles of NK cells and IFN-gamma in protection against primary congenital toxoplasmosis, we used recombination activating gene 2 knockout (RAG-2(-/-)) mice, which lack T and B lymphocytes, in comparison with the wild-type BALB/c model. RAG-2(-/-) mice had a significantly lower risk of fetal toxoplasmosis than BALB/c mice (25 versus 63.9%; P = 0.003). This protection was associated with an increased number of maternal NK cells, IFN-gamma secretion by spleen cells, and decreased parasitemia. In the RAG-2(-/-) mice, NK cell depletion increased both the rate of fetal infection, to 56.5% (P = 0.02), and the blood parasite burden. Conversely, in the BALB/c mice, this treatment did not modify maternofetal transmission or the blood parasite burden. Neutralization of IFN-gamma in both infected RAG-2(-/-) and BALB/c mice decreased congenital Toxoplasma transmission, contrasting with an exacerbation of maternal infection. These data suggest that a partially protective immunity against congenital toxoplasmosis is achieved due to the increased number of NK cells in RAG-2(-/-) mice. However, it seems that IFN-gamma enhances, directly or indirectly, the transplacental transmission.[1]


  1. Role of NK cells and gamma interferon in transplacental passage of Toxoplasma gondii in a mouse model of primary infection. Abou-Bacar, A., Pfaff, A.W., Georges, S., Letscher-Bru, V., Filisetti, D., Villard, O., Antoni, E., Klein, J.P., Candolfi, E. Infect. Immun. (2004) [Pubmed]
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