Toxoplasma gondii infection of the central nervous system. Use of the peroxidase-antiperoxidase method to demonstrate toxoplasma in formalin fixed, paraffin embedded tissue sections

Hum Pathol. 1981 Aug;12(8):690-8. doi: 10.1016/s0046-8177(81)80170-0.


The peroxidase-antiperoxidase immunohistochemical technique was employed to stain formalin fixed, paraffin embedded tissue sections from three cases of encephalitis caused by Toxoplasma gondii. We studied two cases of congenital infection and one case of acquired toxoplasmosis occurring in an immunocompromised host. The peroxidase-antiperoxidase method was exquisitely sensitive and highly specific and stained both the encysted and tachyzoite forms of the organism, as well as allowing for easy identification of infected cells. In two cases of necrotizing encephalitis--one congenital, the other acquired--widespread dissemination of the Toxoplasma organism throughout the neural parenchyma was visualized using the peroxidase-antiperoxidase stain. Brain biopsy material that had been obtained eight days prior to death in the case of adult acquired toxoplasmosis did not contain any of the characteristic tissue cysts and was not diagnostic for toxoplasmosis by conventional staining techniques. However, peroxidase-antiperoxidase staining of tissue sections from this biopsy unequivocally demonstrated both free tachyzoites and multiple infected cells. Further application of the peroxidase-antiperoxidase method should increase our understanding of the pathology and pathogenesis of toxoplasmic encephalitis as well as allowing timely diagnosis in cases presenting with neurologic symptomatology.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / pathology
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Fixatives
  • Formaldehyde / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Middle Aged
  • Paraffin
  • Rabbits
  • Toxoplasma / immunology
  • Toxoplasmosis / diagnosis*
  • Toxoplasmosis, Congenital / diagnosis*


  • Fixatives
  • Formaldehyde
  • Paraffin