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Journal of Parasitology Research
Volume 2012, Article ID 589295, 10 pages
Review Article

Toxoplasma on the Brain: Understanding Host-Pathogen Interactions in Chronic CNS Infection

1Department of Biology, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, NE 68182, USA
2Department of Genetics, Cell Biology & Anatomy, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198, USA

Received 11 August 2011; Accepted 4 January 2012

Academic Editor: Sandra K. Halonen

Copyright © 2012 Sushrut Kamerkar and Paul H. Davis. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Toxoplasma gondii is a prevalent obligate intracellular parasite which chronically infects more than a third of the world’s population. Key to parasite prevalence is its ability to form chronic and nonimmunogenic bradyzoite cysts, which typically form in the brain and muscle cells of infected mammals, including humans. While acute clinical infection typically involves neurological and/or ocular damage, chronic infection has been more recently linked to behavioral changes. Establishment and maintenance of chronic infection involves a balance between the host immunity and parasite evasion of the immune response. Here, we outline the known cellular interplay between Toxoplasma gondii and cells of the central nervous system and review the reported effects of Toxoplasma gondii on behavior and neurological disease. Finally, we review new technologies which will allow us to more fully understand host-pathogen interactions.