Brains and Brawn: Toxoplasma Infections of the Central Nervous System and Skeletal Muscle

Trends Parasitol. 2017 Jul;33(7):519-531. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2017 May 5.


Toxoplasma gondii is a widespread parasitic pathogen that infects over a third of the world's population. Following an acute infection, the parasite can persist within its mammalian host as intraneuronal or intramuscular cysts. Cysts will occasionally reactivate, and - depending on the host's immune status and site of reactivation - encephalitis or myositis can develop. Because these diseases have high levels of morbidity and can be lethal, it is important to understand how Toxoplasma traffics to these tissues, how the immune response controls parasite burden and contributes to tissue damage, and what mechanisms underlie neurological and muscular pathologies that toxoplasmosis patients present with. This review aims to summarize recent important developments addressing these critical topics.

Keywords: Plasmodium; blood–brain barrier; chronic infections; myositis; parasite; seizures.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / parasitology*
  • Central Nervous System / pathology
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / parasitology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Toxoplasmosis / immunology
  • Toxoplasmosis / parasitology*