The New Pathogenesis of Toxoplasma Encephalitis Is Found


Recently, the new pathogenesis of Toxoplasma encephalitis was found by Prof. Du Jian and Shen Jilong’s research group from the School of Basic Medicine in Anhui Medical University, which provides a new way to prevent and cure the nervous system diseases caused by Toxoplasma gondii infection. The results were published online in an international academic journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) and has received wide attention from the medical world.
Toxoplasma is a single-celled parasite that can reside in the human body cells, move with blood flow to all parts of the body, destroying the brain, heart, fundus, and causing encephalitis, meningeal encephalitis, neurological disorders and visual impairment. It is a global foodborne parasitic disease and a serious threat to human health and animal husbandry production. No obvious clinical manifestations of Toxoplasma gondii are observed in the population with normal immune function, but AIDS patients, patients with long-term chemotherapy and organ transplantation and other immunocompromised patients are very susceptible to the disease. Pregnant women infected with Toxoplasma gondii during pregnancy can easily lead to severe adverse pregnancy outcomes, or give birth to children with congenital toxoplasmosis, seriously affecting the prenatal and postnatal care.
Brain tissue is the most vulnerable part of Toxoplasma gondii infection, and Toxoplasma encephalitis is the major cause of death in patients with Toxoplasma gondii disease. Prof. Du and Shen’s research group has been working with Key Laboratory of Pathogenic Biology and Key Laboratory of Human and Animal Diseases of Anhui Province for a few years and has made great progress in finding the pathogenesis of Toxoplasma gondii invading the host nervous system as well as the disease pathogenesis of Toxoplasma encephalitis. The research found that ROP18, a key virulence factor of Toxoplasma, has kinase activity. Through the phosphorylation of high expression protein rtn1-c in host central nervous system, the activity of histone   deacetylase (HDAC) decreased and the stress pathway of endoplasmic reticulum was excessively activated, which induced the apoptosis of host neurons. This is one of the important causes of the nervous system injury caused by Toxoplasma infection, which provides important clues for the study of Toxoplasma gondii’s preference in the host nervous system, and also helps develop the corresponding treatment for the diseases caused by Toxoplasma gondii infection.
The results are also supported by Prof. Lun Zhaorong from Sun Yat-sen University and Prof. Francisco J. Ayala from University of California, Irvine, USA.
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