Targeting tumors with nonreplicating Toxoplasma gondii uracil auxotroph vaccines

Trends Parasitol. 2013 Sep;29(9):431-7. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2013 Aug 5.


Toxoplasma gondii is an intracellular parasite that has evolved to actively control its invaded host cells. Toxoplasma triggers then actively regulates host innate interleukin-12 (IL-12) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) responses that elicit T cell control of infection. A live, nonreplicating avirulent uracil auxotroph vaccine strain (cps) of Toxoplasma triggers novel innate immune responses that stimulate amplified CD8(+) T cell responses and life-long immunity in vaccinated mice. Here, we review recent reports showing that intratumoral treatment with cps activated immune-mediated regression of established solid tumors in mice. We speculate that a better understanding of host-parasite interaction at the molecular level and applying improved genetic models based on Δku80 Toxoplasma strains will stimulate development of highly effective immunotherapeutic cancer vaccine strategies using engineered uracil auxotrophs.

Keywords: CD8(+) T cells; IL-12p70; Toxoplasma gondii; avirulent uracil auxotrophs; immunotherapy; tumor regression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cancer Vaccines / therapeutic use
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Protozoan Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Toxoplasma / immunology*
  • Vaccines, Attenuated / therapeutic use


  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Protozoan Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Attenuated