[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The severity of congenital toxoplasmosis depends on the stage of the pregnancy at which infection takes place. Infection during the first trimester generally leads to miscarriage, through an unknown mechanism. Toxoplasma gondii infection is normally controlled by a strong Th1-type response with IFN-gamma production. To investigate the mechanisms of foetal resorption induced by T. gondii, pregnant Swiss-Webster mice were infected 1 day post coïtum with the avirulent Me49 strain. Mated recipients were examined at mid-gestation. Few parasites and no cytolytic effects were detected 10 days post coïtum in implantation sites undergoing resorption. Resorption was accompanied by haemorrhage, spiral artery dilation, hypocellularity of the decidua basalis, apoptosis of placental cells, a decline in uterine mature natural killer cell numbers, increased indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase mRNA levels and reduced IL-15 mRNA levels. Given the role of IFN-gammaR(-/-) in non-infectious abortive processes, IFN-gammaR(-/-) mice were used to investigate its local role in T. gondii-induced foetal resorption. IFN-gammaR(-/-) mice showed 50% less foetal resorption than their wild-type counterparts, and spiral artery dilation and placental cell apoptosis were both abolished. These results strongly suggest that, at least in mice, T. gondii-induced abortion in early gestation is not due to a direct action of the parasite at the maternofoetal interface but rather to massive IFN-gamma release.
International journal for parasitology 10/2008; 39(4):481-7. · 3.39 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: IFN-gamma production is a hallmark of acute infection with the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii. The tryptophan-catabolising enzyme indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), as well as inducible nitric oxide synthase (NOS2) are induced by IFN-gamma and can play extremely diverse roles in immune regulation, defence against pathogens and physiological homeostasis. We investigated the regulation of these two central enzymes in the placenta during acute infection of pregnant female mice. Using IFN-gamma receptor knockout (IFNgammaR-/-) mice, we showed that IDO is not constitutively expressed in term placentas. In contrast, NOS2 expression was observed, largely dependent on IFN-gamma signalling. Upon infection with the avirulent PRU strain of T. gondii, IDO mRNA expression was induced in an IFNgammaR-dependent manner. Surprisingly, NOS2 mRNA was severely suppressed. Importantly, we showed in crossing experiments of heterozygote (IFNgammaR+/-) mothers with IFNgammaR-/- males and vice versa that IDO expression largely depends on the presence of IFN-gamma receptors on foetal cells, and to a lesser extent on maternal cells. Immunohistochemical analysis localised foetal IDO production to invasive trophoblasts within the maternal part of the placenta. The placental vascular endothelium only stained positive when the mothers possessed functional IFN-gamma receptors. In contrast, placental NOS2 expression, but also its suppression following infection, seems to be largely dependent on IFN-gamma signalling in maternal cells. Neither factor appears to regulate placental T. gondii growth, as we observed no difference in parasite numbers between (+/-) and (-/-) foetuses. Taken together, our results demonstrate the crucial role of the foetus in placental IDO, but not NOS2, production following T. gondii infection.
International Journal for Parasitology 03/2008; 38(2):249-58. · 3.64 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The risk of malaria transmission by blood transfusion is critical due to extensive travel from endemic areas to non-endemic areas. An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) malaria antibody test has been developed that is claimed to perform better than the immunofluorescence assay test (IFAT). The assay contains antigens to both Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax. A multicentre study was performed to evaluate the appropriateness of replacing the IFAT by the new ELISA test.
Nine French blood banks participated in this multicentre study. Two panels of samples were evaluated. The first included 4163 samples from healthy donors and was used to calculate clinical specificity of the assay. The second involved 10,995 samples, either collected retrospectively or prospectively from malaria-risk donors , was used to assess the comparative performance of the ELISA and IFAT. Discordant samples were further tested using an in-house IFAT and also tested for presence of Plasmodium DNA by polymerase chain reaction.
The ELISA showed a clinical specificity of 99.02%. In the malaria-risk blood donors groups, the retrospective group showed a concordance rate of 92.6% (k = 0.90), while the prospective group showed a concordance rate of 97% (k = 0.46). After confirming the discordant sample results by an in-house IFAT, the k index increased to 0.81. None of the discordant samples was shown to contain Plasmodium DNA.
The performance of the ELISA test in this study has confirmed its potential as a new screening test for use in blood banks, as an alternative to the IFAT in prevention of transfusion-transmitted malaria in non-endemic countries.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The methods most commonly used to measure malarial antibody titres are the Indirect Fluorescence Antibody Test (IFAT), regarded as the gold standard, and the Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay (ELISA). The objective here was to assess the diagnostic performance, i.e. the sensitivity and specificity, of a new malaria antibody ELISA kit in comparison to IFAT. This new ELISA kit, the ELISA malaria antibody test (DiaMed), uses a combination of crude soluble Plasmodium falciparum extract and recombinant Plasmodium vivax antigens.
Two groups were used: 95 samples from malaria patients to assess the clinical sensitivity and 2,152 samples from blood donors, who had not been exposed to malaria, to assess the clinical specificity.
The DiaMed ELISA test kit had a clinical sensitivity of 84.2% and a clinical specificity of 99.6% as compared with 70.5% and 99.6% respectively, using the IFAT method. The ELISA method was more sensitive than the IFAT method for P. vivax infections (75% vs. 25%). However, in 923 malaria risk donors the analytical sensitivity of the ELISA test was 40% and its specificity 98.3%, performances impaired by large numbers of equivocal results non-concordant between ELISA and IFAT. When the overall analytical performances of ELISA was compared to IFAT, the ELISA efficiency J index was 0.84 versus 0.71 for IFAT. Overall analytical sensitivity was 93.1% and the analytical specificity 96.7%. Overall agreement between the two methods reached 0.97 with a reliability k index of 0.64.
The DiaMed ELISA test kit shows a good correlation with IFAT for analytical and clinical parameters. It may be an interesting method to replace the IFAT especially in blood banks, but further extensive investigations are needed to examine the analytical performance of the assay, especially in a blood bank setting.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Toxoplasma gondii is one of the few pathogens that can cross the placenta. Frequency and severity of transmission vary with gestational age. While the control of acquired toxoplasmosis is already well explored, the control of materno-foetal transmission of the parasite remains almost unknown. This is partly due to the lack of an animal model to study this process. This review summarises the studies which have been undertaken and shows that the mouse is a valuable model despite obvious differences to the human case. The paramount role of the cellular immune response has been shown by several experiments. However, IFN-gamma has a dual role in this process. While its beneficial effects in the control of toxoplasmosis are well known, it also seems to have transmission-enhancing effects and can also directly harm the developing foetus. The ultimate goal of these studies is to develop a vaccine which protects both mother and foetus. Therefore, it is useful to study the mechanisms of natural resistance against transmission during a secondary infection. In this setting, the process is more complicated, involving both cellular and also humoral components of the immune system. In summary, even if the whole process is far from being elucidated, important insights have been gained so far which will help us to undertake rational vaccine research.