Submitted to: Veterinary Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/19/2005
Publication Date: 7/14/2005
Citation: Dubey, J.P. 2005. Unexpected oocyst shedding by cats fed toxoplasma gondii tachyzoites: in vivo stage conversion and strain variation. Veterinary Parasitology 133:289-298.
Interpretive Summary: Toxoplasma gondii is a single-celled parasite of all warm-blooded hosts worldwide. It causes mental retardation and loss of vision in children, and abortion in livestock. Cats are the main reservoir of T. gondii because they are the only hosts that can excrete the resistant stage (oocyst) of the parasite in the feces. Humans become infected by eating undercooked meat from infected animals and food and water contaminated with oocysts. A scientist at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center describes the life cycle of T. gondii.The results will be of interest to biologists, parasitologists, and veterinarians.
Technical Abstract: Tachyzoites, bradyzoites (in tissue cysts), and sporozoites (in oocysts) are the three infectious stages of Toxoplasma gondii. The prepatent period (time to shedding of oocysts after primary infection) varies with the stage of T. gondii ingested by the cat. The prepatent period (pp) after ingesting bradyzoites is short (3-10 days) while it is long (18 days or longer) after ingesting oocysts or tachyzoites, irrespective of the dose. The conversion of bradyzoites to tachyzoites and tachyzoites to bradyzoites is biologically important in the life cycle of T. gondii. In the present paper the pp was used to study in vivo conversion of tachyzoites to bradyzoites using two isolates, VEG and TgCkAr23. T. gondii organisms were obtained from the peritoneal exudates (pex) of mice inoculated intraperitoneally (i.p.) with these isolates and administered to cats orally by pouring in the mouth or by a stomach tube. In total, 93 of 151 cats shed oocysts after ingesting pex. The pp after ingesting pex was short (5-10 days) in 49 cats, intermediate (11-17) in 30 cats, and long (18 or higher) in 14 cats. The strain of T. gondii (VEG, TgCKAr23) or the stage (bradyzoite, tachyzoite, sporozoite) used to initiate infection in mice did not affect the results. In addition, 6 of 8 cats fed mice infected 1-4 day earlier shed oocysts with a short pp; the mice had been inoculated i.p. with bradyzoites of the VEG strain and their whole carcasses were fed to cats 1, 2, 3, or 4 days post-infection. Results indicate that bradyzoites may be formed in the peritoneal cavities of mice inoculated intraperitoneally with T. gondii and some bradyzoites might give rise directly to bradyzoites without converting to tachyzoites.