Submitted to: Veterinary Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/28/2006
Publication Date: 8/1/2006
Citation: Dubey, J.P. 2006. Comparative infectivity of oocysts and bradyzoites of toxoplasma gondii for intermediate (mice) and definitive (cats) hosts. Veterinary Parasitology. 140:69-75.
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 USDA Agricultural Research Service reports that transmission of T. gondii is most efficient when cats consume tissue cysts (carnivory) or when intermediate hosts consume oocysts (fecal-oral transmission). The results will be of interest to biologists, parasitologists, andveterinarians.
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. The conversion of bradyzoites to tachyzoites and tachyzoites to bradyzoites is biologically important in the life cycle of T. gondii and it has been proposed that the pp can be used to study stage conversion. In the present study, infectivity of oocysts and bradyzoites released from tissue cysts of a recent isolate of T. gondii, TgCkAr23, to cats and mice was compared. Ten-fold dilutions of oocysts or bradyzoites were administered orally to cats, and orally and subcutaneously to mice. Of the 29 cats each fed 1 to 10 million oocysts only one cat shed oocysts and the pp was 23 days; all cats remained asymptomatic. In contrast, all mice administered the same 10- fold dilutions of oocysts either orally or subcutaneously died of toxoplasmosis. The results confirm that infectivity of the oocysts to cats is lower than for mice and that oocysts are non-pathogenic for cats. Of the 41 cats each fed 1 to 1000 free bradyzoites, 15 shed oocysts with a short pp of 4-9 days, and all remained asymptomatic. The infectivity of bradyzoites to mice by the oral route was 100 times lower than that by the subcutaneous route (64%, 32 of 50 mice inoculated) orally (30%, 15 of 50 mice inoculated). The results confirm the hypothesis that the pp in cats is stage and not dose dependent, and that the low level of oral infectivity of bradyzoites in the mouse suggests that this is an inefficient means of transmission of T. gondii. Transmission of T. gondii is most efficient when cats consume tissue cysts (carnivory) or when intermediate hosts consume oocysts (fecal-oral transmission).