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New publication in Veterinary Parasitology

7 feb 2023 - 09:42 CET

Experimental infection of sheep at mid-pregnancy with archetypal type II and type III Toxoplasma gondii isolates exhibited different phenotypic traits
Raquel Vallejo, Julio Benavides, Noive Arteche-Villasol, Roberto Sánchez-Sánchez, Rafael Calero-Bernal, Mª Carmen Ferreras, Miguel Criado, Valentín Pérez, Luis Miguel Ortega-Mora, Daniel Gutiérrez-Expósito


Toxoplasma gondii is a major cause of reproductive failure in small ruminants. Genotypic diversity of T. gondii strains has been associated with variations in phenotypic traits in in vitro and murine models. However, whether such diversity could influence the outcome of infection in small ruminants remains mostly unexplored. Here, we investigate the outcome of oral challenge in sheep at mid-pregnancy with 10 sporulated oocysts from three different T. gondii isolates belonging to archetypal II and III and selected according to their genetic and phenotypic variations shown in previous studies. Seventy-three pregnant sheep were divided in four groups: G1 infected with TgShSp1 isolate (type II, ToxoDB#3), G2 with TgShSp16 isolate (type II, ToxoDB#3), G3 with TgShSp24 isolate (type III, ToxoDB#2) and G4 of uninfected control sheep. Two different approaches were carried out within this study: (i) the outcome for the pregnancy after infection (n = 33) and (ii) the lesions and parasite tropism and burden at 14 and 28 days post infection (dpi) (n = 40). The onset of hyperthermia and seroconversion occurred one and two days later, respectively in G1 when compared to G2 and G3. However, sheep that suffered from reproductive failure, either by abortion, foetal dead at the time of euthanasia or stillbirth were similar among infected groups (50%, 40% and 47%, respectively). Histological lesions in placentomes and foetal tissues from euthanized animals from the second approach were only detected at 28 dpi and mainly in G1. At 14 dpi, T. gondii-DNA was only detected in G1 in the 11% of the placentomes. However, at 28 dpi the frequency of detection in placentomes was higher in G1 (96%) than in G2 and G3 (7% and 47%, respectively) besides in foetuses was lower in G2 (20%) than in G1 and G3 (100% and 87%, respectively). Regarding late abortions, stillbirths, and lambs of G1, G2 and G3, the frequency of microscopic lesions was similar between groups (79%, 78% and 67%, respectively) whereas T. gondii-DNA was evidenced in 100%, 55% and 100%, respectively. These recently obtained T. gondii isolates led to similar reproductive losses but intra- and inter-genotype variations in the rise of hyperthermia, dynamics of antibodies, frequency of lesions and parasite detection and distribution. Thus, the different phenotypic traits of the isolates could influence the outcome of the infection and mechanisms responsible for it, and further investigations are warranted.

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