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Keywords:

  • cytokine;
  • macrophage;
  • parasite-protozoan;
  • signal transduction

Summary

The opportunistic protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii is well known as a strong inducer of cell-mediated immunity, largely as a result of proinflammatory cytokine induction during in vivo infection. Yet, during intracellular infection the parasite suppresses signal transduction pathways leading to these proinflammatory responses. The opposing responses are likely to reflect the parasite’s need to stimulate immunity allowing host survival and parasite persistence, and at the same time avoiding excessive responses that could result in parasite elimination and host immunopathology. This Review summarizes past and present investigations into the effects of Toxoplasma on host cell signal transduction. These studies reveal insight into the profound suppression of proinflammatory cytokine responses that occurs when the parasite infects macrophages and other cells of innate immunity.