Use and abuse of dendritic cells by Toxoplasma gondii

Virulence. 2012 Nov 15;3(7):678-89. doi: 10.4161/viru.22833. Epub 2012 Nov 15.


The ubiquitous apicomplexan parasite Toxoplasma gondii stimulates its host's immune response to achieve quiescent chronic infection. Central to this goal are host dendritic cells. The parasite exploits dendritic cells to disseminate through the body, produce pro-inflammatory cytokines, present its antigens to the immune system and yet at the same time subvert their signaling pathways in order to evade detection. This carefully struck balance by Toxoplasma makes it the most successful parasite on this planet. Recent progress has highlighted specific parasite and host molecules that mediate some of these processes particularly in dendritic cells and in other cells of the innate immune system. Critically, there are several important factors that need to be taken into consideration when concluding how the dendritic cells and the immune system deal with a Toxoplasma infection, including the route of administration, parasite strain and host genotype.

Keywords: CD8+ T cells; IFNγ; IL-12; Toll like receptors; Toxoplasma gondii; blood-brain barrier; dendritic cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Dendritic Cells / parasitology*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Immune Evasion
  • Immunologic Factors / immunology
  • Immunologic Factors / metabolism*
  • Toxoplasma / immunology*
  • Toxoplasma / pathogenicity*
  • Toxoplasmosis / immunology
  • Toxoplasmosis / parasitology
  • Virulence Factors / immunology
  • Virulence Factors / metabolism*


  • Immunologic Factors
  • Virulence Factors