The Impaired Pregnancy Outcome in Murine Congenital Toxoplasmosis Is Associated With a Pro-Inflammatory Immune Response, but Not Correlated With Decidual Inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase Expression

Int J Parasitol. 2012 Apr;42(4):341-52. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2012.01.006. Epub 2012 Feb 17.


Congenital toxoplasmosis is associated with adverse pregnancy outcome. Despite the type 1 immune response, C57BL/6 mice are more susceptible than BALB/c mice to Toxoplasma gondii infection. Additionally, successful pregnancy appears to be correlated with type 2 T helper maternal immunity and regulatory T cells. In order to investigate the mechanisms of susceptibility/resistance to congenital toxoplasmosis in mice with different genetic backgrounds and the influence of inducible nitric oxide synthase in pregnancy outcome, groups of C57BL/6, BALB/c and C57BL/6 iNOS(-/-) females were orally infected with T. gondii ME-49 strain on day 1 of pregnancy and were sacrificed on day 8 p.i. and day 19 p.i. The uterus and placenta were evaluated for the foetal resorption rate, parasite load, immunological and histological changes. C57BL/6 mice presented inflammatory foci in the decidua (endometrium) of the uterus at a higher frequency than BALB/c mice on day 8 p.i., and a large number of pregnant C57BL/6 mice presented necrotic implantation sites. The parasite was seldom found in the uterus or placenta of either lineage of mice. Interestingly, there was no observed difference in inducible nitric oxide synthase expression in the uterus and placenta of infected mice. In addition, higher levels of TNF-α were detected in serum samples from C57BL/6 mice compared with BALB/c mice. Accordingly, C57BL/6 mice presented with levels of 90% abortion compared with 50% in BALB/c mice on day 19 p.i. C57BL/6 iNOS(-/-) mice showed low placental parasite counts and high absorption rates, similar to wild type mice. The data suggest that the impaired pregnancy outcome due to T. gondii infection in C57BL/6 mice could be associated with a higher inflammatory response leading to cell apoptosis and necrosis of implantation sites compared with BALB/c mice, and this phenomenon was not due to inducible nitric oxide synthase expression in the decidua.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Decidua / enzymology*
  • Decidua / pathology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II / biosynthesis*
  • Placenta / immunology
  • Placenta / parasitology
  • Placenta / pathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / immunology*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / mortality
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / pathology*
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Toxoplasma / pathogenicity
  • Toxoplasmosis, Animal / immunology*
  • Toxoplasmosis, Animal / mortality
  • Toxoplasmosis, Animal / pathology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood
  • Uterus / immunology
  • Uterus / parasitology
  • Uterus / pathology


  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II