In Pregnant Mice, the Infection of Toxoplasma Gondii Causes the Decrease of CD4+CD25+ -Regulatory T Cells

Parasite Immunol. 2008 Sep;30(9):471-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3024.2008.01044.x.


Acute maternal infection with Toxoplasma gondii during pregnancy is associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. Although previous reports have indicated that T. gondii may result in abortion without direct transmission of the parasite to the foetus, the molecular mechanism remains unclear. CD4+CD25+-regulatory T cells are known to be involved in maternal tolerance toward the foetus-bearing alloantigens. With a model of pregnant mice infected with T. gondii, we found that Foxp3 mRNA expression levels in both splenocytes and placenta were reduced markedly during the process of infection. Furthermore, the numbers of splenic CD4+CD25+-regulatory T cells and placental Foxp3+ cells decreased synchronously in the infected mice, and the reduction of splenic CD4+CD25+-regulatory T cells were associated with apoptosis induced by the infection. Additionally, injection of pregnant mice with excretory-secretory antigens (ESA) of T. gondii also resulted in foetal loss, which could be partly prevented by adoptive transfer of CD4+CD25+-regulatory T cells from normal pregnant mice. These data suggest that foetal loss caused by T. gondii can be independent of vertical infection and that the decrease of CD4+CD25+-regulatory T cells during infection may represent a previously unrecognized mechanism for the pathogenesis of abortion caused by this parasite.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Parasitic / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • Toxoplasma / immunology*
  • Toxoplasmosis, Animal / immunology*