Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Cheryl D. Davis (Director), Dr. Claire Rinehart, Dr. Rodney King

Degree Program

Department of Biology

Degree Type

Master of Science in Biology


Toxoplasmosis is an important cause of congenital disease, and it is one of the most common opportunistic infections in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. The need for a reliable experimental model of this infection is crucial not only for achieving a better understanding of the patho-physiology of the disease, but also for developing better methods for evaluating new therapeutic regimens. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the role of CD4+CD25+ T regulatory lymphocytes in mice infected with Toxoplasma gondii. T regulatory (Treg) cells have been shown to play an important role in our immune system in controlling the activity of other T lymphocytes. These cells are differentiated from other T lymphocyte populations based on the co-expression of CD4 and CD25 and expression of the Foxp3 gene. The results of several recent studies have suggested that certain pathogens may be able to increase their survival in the host by exploiting T reg cell activity. T regulatory cells have been shown to control the persistence of the protozoan parasite, Leishmania major, in mice; however, this population of cells plays only a limited role during murine infection with Trypanosoma cruzi. In the present study we have investigated the role of Treg cells during murine infection with the ME49 strain of T. gondii. In vivo depletion of Treg cells was accomplished by injecting mice with a monoclonal antibody (Mab) isolated from the 7D4 rat hybridoma cell line. This Mab is specific for the interleukin-2 receptor chain (also known as CD25). Female Swiss Webster mice of approximately 6-7 weeks of age were depleted of Treg cells by intraperitoneal injection of 400µg of Mab, mice were injected once 7days prior to infection, and a second time 1 day prior to infection, with 20 tissue cysts of T. gondii. Mouse weight and tissue cyst numbers were monitored to evaluate the impact of Treg depletion on the outcome of infection. Our results suggest that depletion of Treg cells has little measurable impact during the acute stage of infection with the ME49 strain of T. gondii. Further studies will be required to determine what role, if any, these cells play in the chronic stage of murine toxoplasmosis.


Cell Biology | Medical Cell Biology | Medical Immunology | Medical Sciences