Proliferation of Toxoplasma gondii in inflammatory macrophages in vivo is associated with diminished oxygen radical production in the host cell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


While reactive oxygen species (ROS) can kill Toxoplasma gondii in vitro the role these molecules play in vivo is not known. We used a flow cytometry-based assay to investigate the relationship between intracellular infection and ROS production during acute peritoneal toxoplasmosis in mice. A distinct population of ROS+ inflammatory macrophages, detected by the oxidation of hydroethidine, was observed to increase progressively in frequency during the course of infection, and to be inversely correlated with the degree of cell parasitization. These data imply that either intracellular parasites inhibit ROS synthesis or, alternatively, ROS-producing cells contain anti-Toxoplasma activity. The latter interpretation was supported by the finding that uninfected ROS-producing inflammatory macrophages were resistant to infection in vivo. However, in the same animals, ROS-producing macrophages that had previously been parasitized could readily be infected with additional parasites, suggesting that the difference in ROS production between highly infected and less infected cells was not due to ROS-associated killing of parasites within these cells. In addition, macrophages infected with T. gondii in vitro and then briefly transferred to acutely infected mice upregulated ROS production in a manner that was again inversely correlated with the degree of intracellular parasitization. Taken together, these findings suggest that both ROS-associated anti-Toxoplasma activity and parasite-driven inhibition of ROS production underlie the observed pattern of ROS production. ROS function and parasite evasion of this function may contribute significantly to the balance between host defense and disease progression during acute infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-441
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2006


  • Inflammation
  • Macrophages
  • Mice
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Toxoplasma gondii

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


Dive into the research topics of 'Proliferation of Toxoplasma gondii in inflammatory macrophages in vivo is associated with diminished oxygen radical production in the host cell'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this