Vaccines against toxoplasma gondii : challenges and opportunities

Jongert, Erik and Roberts, Craig W and Gargano, Nicola and Förster-Wald, Elisabeth and Petersen, Eskild (2009) Vaccines against toxoplasma gondii : challenges and opportunities. Memorias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, 104 (2). pp. 252-266. ISSN 1678-8060

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    Abstract

    Development of vaccines against Toxoplasma gondii infection in humans is of high priority, given the high burden of disease in some areas of the world like South America, and the lack of effective drugs with few adverse effects. Rodent models have been used in research on vaccines against T. gondii over the past decades. However, regardless of the vaccine construct, the vaccines have not been able to induce protective immunity when the organism is challenged with T. gondii, either directly or via a vector. Only a few live, attenuated T. gondii strains used for immunization have been able to confer protective immunity, which is measured by a lack of tissue cysts after challenge. Furthermore, challenge with low virulence strains, especially strains with genotype II, will probably be insufficient to provide protection against the more virulent T. gondii strains, such as those with genotypes I or II, or those genotypes from South America not belonging to genotype I, II or III. Future studies should use animal models besides rodents, and challenges should be performed with at least one genotype II T. gondii and one of the more virulent genotypes. Endpoints like maternal-foetal transmission and prevention of eye disease are important in addition to the traditional endpoint of survival or reduction in numbers of brain cysts after challenge.