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1.  Kinetics of IL-23 and IL-12 Secretion in Response to Toxoplasma gondii Antigens from THP-1 Monocytic Cells 
IL-23 and IL-12 are structurally similar and critical for the generation of efficient cellular immune responses. Toxoplasma gondii induces a strong cell-mediated immune response. However, little is known about IL-23 secretion profiles in T. gondii-infected immune cells in connection with IL-12. We compared the patterns of IL-23 and IL-12 production by THP-1 human monocytic cells in response to stimulation with live or heat-killed T. gondii tachyzoites, or with equivalent quantities of either T. gondii excretory/secretory proteins (ESP) or soluble tachyzoite antigen (STAg). IL-23 and IL-12 were significantly increased from 6 hr after stimulation with T. gondii antigens, and their secretions were increased with parasite dose-dependent manner. IL-23 concentrations were significantly higher than those of IL-12 at the same multiplicity of infection. IL-23 secretion induced by live parasites was significantly higher than that by heat-killed parasites, ESP, or STAg, whereas IL-12 secretion by live parasite was similar to those of ESP or STAg. However, the lowest levels of both cytokines were at stimulation with heat-killed parasites. These data indicate that IL-23 secretion patterns by stimulation with various kinds of T. gondii antigens at THP-1 monocytic cells are similar to those of IL-12, even though the levels of IL-23 induction were significantly higher than those of IL-12. The detailed kinetics induced by each T. gondii antigen were different from each other.
PMCID: PMC3587754  PMID: 23467650
Toxoplasma gondii; IL-23; IL-12; THP-1 monocytic cell
2.  Induction of Protective Immune Responses by a Multiantigenic DNA Vaccine Encoding GRA7 and ROP1 of Toxoplasma gondii 
Toxoplasma gondii is distributed worldwide and infects most species of warm-blooded animals, including humans. The heavy incidence and severe or lethal damage caused by T. gondii infection clearly indicates the need for the development of a vaccine. To evaluate the protective efficacy of a multiantigenic DNA vaccine expressing GRA7 and ROP1 of T. gondii with or without a plasmid encoding murine interleukin-12 (pIL12), we constructed DNA vaccines using the eukaryotic plasmids pGRA7, pROP1, and pGRA7-ROP1. Mice immunized with pGRA7, pROP1, or pGRA7-ROP1 showed significantly increased serum IgG2a titers; production of gamma interferon (IFN-γ), IL-10, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α); in vitro T cell proliferation; and survival, as well as decreased cyst burdens in the brain, compared to mice immunized with either the empty plasmid, pIL12, or vector with pIL12 (vector+pIL12). Moreover, mice immunized with the multiantigenic DNA vaccine pGRA7-ROP1 had higher IgG2a titers, production of IFN-γ and TNF-α, survival time, and cyst reduction rate compared to those of mice vaccinated with either pGRA7 or pROP1 alone. Furthermore, mice immunized with either a pGRA7-ROP1+pIL12 or a single-gene vaccine combined with pIL12 showed greater Th1 immune response and protective efficacy than the single-gene-vaccinated groups. Our data suggest that the multiantigenic DNA antigen pGRA7-ROP1 was more effective in stimulating host protective immune responses than separately injected single antigens, and that IL-12 serves as a good DNA adjuvant.
PMCID: PMC3346315  PMID: 22419676
3.  Quantitative Evaluation of Viability- and Apoptosis-Related Genes in Ascaris suum Eggs under Different Culture-Temperature Conditions 
Ascaris suum eggs are inactivated by composting conditions; however, it is difficult to find functional changes in heat-treated A. suum eggs. Here, unembryonated A. suum eggs were incubated at 20℃, 50℃, and 70℃ in vitro, and the gene expression levels related to viability, such as eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (IF4E), phosphofructokinase 1 (PFK1), and thioredoxin 1 (TRX1), and to apoptosis, such as apoptosis-inducing factor 1 (AIF1) and cell death protein 6 (CDP6), were evaluated by real-time quantitative RT-PCR. No prominent morphological alterations were noted in the eggs at 20℃ until day 10. In contrast, the eggs developed rapidly, and embryonated eggs and hatched larvae began to die, starting on day 2 at 50℃ and day 1 at 70℃. At 20℃, IF4E, PFK1, and TRX1 mRNA expression was significantly increased from days 2-4; however, AIF1 and CDP6 mRNA expression was not changed significantly. IF4E, PFK1, and TRX1 mRNA expression was markedly decreased from day 2 at 50℃ and 70℃, whereas AIF1 and CDP6 mRNA expression was significantly increased. The expressions of HSP70 and HSP90 were detected for 9-10 days at 20℃, for 3-5 days at 50℃, and for 2 days at 70℃. Taken together, incremental heat increases were associated with the rapid development of A. suum eggs, decreased expression of genes related to viability, and earlier expression of apoptosis-related genes, and finally these changes of viability- and apoptosis-related genes of A. suum eggs were associated with survival of the eggs under temperature stress.
PMCID: PMC3428572  PMID: 22949754
Ascaris suum; egg; temperature; viability; apoptosis; real-time quantitative RT-PCR
4.  Gene Expression Profiles in Genetically Different Mice Infected with Toxoplasma gondii: ALDH1A2, BEX2, EGR2, CCL3 and PLAU 
Toxoplasma gondii can modulate host cell gene expression; however, determining gene expression levels in intermediate hosts after T. gondii infection is not known much. We selected 5 genes (ALDH1A2, BEX2, CCL3, EGR2 and PLAU) and compared the mRNA expression levels in the spleen, liver, lung and small intestine of genetically different mice infected with T. gondii. ALDH1A2 mRNA expressions of both mouse strains were markedly increased at day 1-4 postinfection (PI) and then decreased, and its expressions in the spleen and lung were significantly higher in C57BL/6 mice than those of BALB/c mice. BEX2 and CCR3 mRNA expressions of both mouse strains were significantly increased from day 7 PI and peaked at day 15-30 PI (P<0.05), especially high in the spleen liver or small intestine of C57BL/6 mice. EGR2 and PLAU mRNA expressions of both mouse strains were significantly increased after infection, especially high in the spleen and liver. However, their expression patterns were varied depending on the tissue and mouse strain. Taken together, T. gondii-susceptible C57BL/6 mice expressed higher levels of these 5 genes than did T. gondii-resistant BALB/c mice, particularly in the spleen and liver. And ALDH1A2 and PLAU expressions were increased acutely, whereas BEX2, CCL3 and EGR2 expressions were increased lately. Thus, these demonstrate that host genetic factors exert a strong impact on the expression of these 5 genes and their expression patterns were varied depending on the gene or tissue.
PMCID: PMC3309055  PMID: 22451728
Toxoplasma gondii; RT-PCR; mouse; ALDH1A2; BEX2; CCL3; EGR2; PLAU
5.  Antigenemia and Specific IgM and IgG Antibody Responses in Rabbits Infected with Toxoplasma gondii 
In this experiment, the correlation between antigenemia and specific antibody responses in Toxoplasma gondii-infected rabbits was assessed. We injected 1,000 T. gondii tachyzoites (RH) subcutaneously into 5 rabbits. Parasitemia, circulating antigens, and IgM and IgG antibody titers in blood were tested by ELISA and immunoblot. For detection of parasitemia, mice were injected with blood from rabbits infected with T. gondii and mice died between days 2 and 10 post-infection (PI). Circulating antigens were detected early on day 2 PI, and the titers increased from day 4 PI and peaked on day 12 PI. Anti-Toxoplasma IgM antibody titers increased on day 6 PI and peaked on days 14-16 PI. IgG was detected from day 10 PI, and the titers increased continuously during the experiment. The antigenic protein patterns differed during the infection period, and the number of bands increased with ongoing infection by the immunoblot analysis. These result indicated that Toxoplasma circulating antigens during acute toxoplasmosis are closely related to the presence of parasites in blood. Also, the circulating antigen levels were closely correlated with IgM titers, but not with IgG titers. Therefore, co-detection of circulating antigens with IgM antibodies may improve the reliability of the diagnosis of acute toxoplasmosis.
PMCID: PMC2788723  PMID: 19967092
Toxoplasma gondii; rabbit; antigenemia; parasitemia; antibody
6.  Genotyping of a Korean isolate of Toxoplasma gondii by multilocus PCR-RFLP and microsatellite analysis 
Although the Korean isolate KI-1 of Toxoplasma gondii has been considered to be a virulent type I lineage because of its virulent clinical manifestations, its genotype is unclear. In the present study, genotyping of the KI-1 was performed by multilocus PCR-RFLP and microsatellite sequencing. For 9 genetic markers (c22-8, c29-2, L358, PK1, SAG2, SAG3, GRA6, BTUB, and Apico), the KI-1 and RH strains exhibited typical PCR-RFLP patterns identical to the type I strains. DNA sequencing of tandem repeats in 5 microsatellite markers (B17, B18, TUB2, W35, and TgM-A) of the KI-1 also revealed patterns characteristic of the type I. These results provide strong genetic evidence that KI-1 is a type I lineage of T. gondii.
PMCID: PMC2532607  PMID: 18552548
Toxoplasma gondii; Korean isolate; genotype
7.  Toxoplasma gondii Proliferation Require Down-Regulation of Host Nox4 Expression via Activation of PI3 Kinase/Akt Signaling Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66306.
Toxoplasma gondii results in ocular toxoplasmosis characterized by chorioretinitis with inflammation and necrosis of the neuroretina, pigment epithelium, and choroid. After invasion, T. gondii replicates in host cells before cell lysis, which releases the parasites to invade neighboring cells to repeat the life cycle and establish a chronic retinal infection. The mechanism by which T. gondii avoids innate immune defense, however, is unknown. Therefore, we determined whether PI3K/Akt signaling pathway activation by T. gondii is essential for subversion of host immunity and parasite proliferation. T. gondii infection or excretory/secretory protein (ESP) treatment of the human retinal pigment epithelium cell line ARPE-19 induced Akt phosphorylation, and PI3K inhibitors effectively reduced T. gondii proliferation in host cells. Furthermore, T. gondii reduced intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) while activating the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway. While searching for the main source of these ROS, we found that NADPH oxidase 4 (Nox4) was prominently expressed in ARPE-19 cells, and this expression was significantly reduced by T. gondii infection or ESP treatment along with decreased ROS levels. In addition, artificial reduction of host Nox4 levels with specific siRNA increased replication of intracellular T. gondii compared to controls. Interestingly, these T. gondii-induced effects were reversed by PI3K inhibitors, suggesting that activation of the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway is important for suppression of both Nox4 expression and ROS levels by T. gondii infection. These findings demonstrate that manipulation of the host PI3K/Akt signaling pathway and Nox4 gene expression is a novel mechanism involved in T. gondii survival and proliferation.
PMCID: PMC3688893  PMID: 23824914

Results 1-7 (7)