Toxoplasma gondii infection in marrow transplant recipients: a 20 year experience

Bone Marrow Transplant. 1994 May;13(5):549-57.


Twelve of 3803 consecutive marrow allograft patients treated at this center over the past 20 years have had a post-transplant tissue diagnosis of toxoplasmosis: 10 at autopsy and 2 by brain biopsy. This infection was identified in none of 509 autologous marrow recipients. Occurrence of toxoplasmosis was 0.31 cases per 100 allogeneic transplants and 1.0 per 100 autopsies. An estimated 15% of allogeneic transplant recipients were seropositive for Toxoplasma gondii and 2% of seropositive patients developed toxoplasmosis. Pre-transplant serology was positive by both dye and agglutination tests in 11 infected patients tested. Sequential IgG, IgM, IgA, IgE antibody titers to T. gondii and the differential agglutination ratio were not helpful in diagnosing toxoplasmosis. Median day of clinical presentation was day 59 post-transplant (35-97 days) and of diagnosis, day 62 after transplant (37-143 days). Eleven patients had graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) of grades II-IV. All 12 patients died. Infection was diagnosed prior to death in only 16% of patients and contributed to death in at least 40%. Histopathology revealed tachyzoites of T. gondii most prevalent in brain (100%), heart (67%) and lungs (33%), and toxoplasma cysts alone in heart (33%) and lungs (22%). Toxoplasma infection was diagnosed in two patients receiving trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole for Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia prophylaxis suggesting this was insufficient prophylaxis for toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis appeared to occur by reactivation within the first 6 months after marrow transplant. Infection developed in patients who were seropositive for T. gondii pre-transplant, had received allogeneic marrow and had severe GVHD.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Protozoan / blood
  • Autopsy
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Graft vs Host Disease / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonia, Pneumocystis / prevention & control
  • Toxoplasma / immunology
  • Toxoplasmosis / etiology*
  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination / therapeutic use


  • Antibodies, Protozoan
  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination