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

The role of IL-4 in adult acquired and congenital toxoplasmosis.

The course of Toxoplasma gondii infection was studied in IL-4-deficient mice from three genetic backgrounds and their wild-type counterparts following peroral inoculation of tissue cysts. Survival rates were significantly reduced in disease-susceptible C57 BL/6 mice and F1 (C57BL/6 x 129Sv) mice deficient in IL-4 compared with wild-type controls. In contrast, this difference was not observed in T. gondii-resistant BALB/c mice. However, brain tissue cyst burdens in IL-4-deficient mice were either equivalent to (C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice) or significantly less (B6/129 mice) than similarly infected wild-type mice. Thus strain-specific differences in the course of T. gondii were demonstrated in the absence of IL-4. The course of T. gondii infection was also compared between B6/129 IL-4-deficient mice and their wild-type counterparts following peroral challenge with 20 tissue cysts on day 12 of pregnancy. Age-matched non-pregnant IL-4-/- and IL-4+/+ mice were also infected to assess the role of IL-4 on T. gondii infection during pregnancy. Disease phenotypes, as measured by mortality, were reversed if infections were initiated during pregnancy compared with non-pregnant infection. Thus significant mortality occurred immediately post partum in IL-4+/+ mothers, while all IL-4-/- mothers survived. Cyst burdens 28 days p.i. were significantly lower in IL-4-/- mothers than IL-4+/+ mothers and both IL-4-/- and IL-4+/+ non-pregnant mice. Congenital disease transmission as measured by foetal death or vertical disease transmission was independent of the presence or absence of IL-4. These studies demonstrate a role for IL-4 in pregnancy-induced immunosuppression and the associated increased susceptibility to T. gondii infection.[1]


  1. The role of IL-4 in adult acquired and congenital toxoplasmosis. Alexander, J., Jebbari, H., Bluethmann, H., Brombacher, F., Roberts, C.W. Int. J. Parasitol. (1998) [Pubmed]
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