T cell mediated immune responses to Toxoplasma gondii in pregnant women with primary toxoplasmosis

Ignazia Prigione, Sabrina Chiesa, Paola Taverna, Roberto Ceccarelli, Rosanna Frulio, Fabio Morandi, Paola Bocca, Marie France Cesbron-Delauw, Vito Pistoia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was to investigate T cell immunity to Toxoplasma gondii (Tg) in pregnant women with primary toxoplasmosis. This issue has never been addressed before in humans and available information derives from murine models. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from pregnant women with primary Tg infection were stimulated with Tg tachyzoites, excretory-secretory antigens (ESA) or recombinant surface antigen-1 (rSAG-1), and tested for proliferation, immunophenotype, cytokine production and antigen specific cytotoxic activity. Pregnant women with primary toxoplasmosis displayed a significant decrease of the CD4/CD8 T cell ratio and a significant increase of circulating T cell receptor (TCR) γδ+ cells as compared to their uninfected counterparts. T cells from Tg infected pregnant women proliferated to Tg tachyzoites, ESA or rSAG-1. Most tachyzoite and ESA specific T cell blasts were CD4+, whereas SAG-1 specific blasts were CD4 + and CD8+. ESA and tachyzoite specific T cell blasts displayed a Th1 or Th0 cytokine profile with overexpression of IFN-γ. This pattern was unchanged upon in vitro exposure of T cells to progesterone, tested at a concentration close to that reached in vivo at the maternal-fetal interface. Finally, tachyzoite or ESA specific T cell blasts lysed, through a granule exocytosis dependent mechanism, autologous lymphoblastoid cell lines presenting Tg antigens. In conclusion, pregnant women with primary toxoplasmosis mounted in vitro Tg-specific Th1/Th0 responses whose impact on neonatal infection warrants further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)552-560
Number of pages9
JournalMicrobes and Infection
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006


  • Pregnancy
  • Primary human toxoplasmosis
  • T cell responses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases


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