A Proinflammatory Immune Response Might Determine Toxoplasma gondii Vertical Transmission and Severity of Clinical Features in Congenitally Infected Newborns

Fernando Gómez-Chávez, Irma Cañedo-Solares, Luz Belinda Ortiz-Alegría, Yevel Flores-García, Ricardo Figueroa-Damián, Héctor Luna-Pastén, Valeria Gómez-Toscano, Carlos López-Candiani, G. Emmanuel Arce-Estrada, Christian A. Bonilla-Ríos, Juan Carlos Mora-González, Ricardo García-Ruiz, Dolores Correa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Toxoplasma gondii is the etiological agent of toxoplasmosis. Mother-to-child transmission of this parasite can occur during pregnancy. Newborns with congenital toxoplasmosis may develop central nervous system impairment, with severity ranging from subclinical manifestations to death. A proinflammatory/regulated specific immune profile is crucial in the defense against the parasite; nevertheless, its role in the infected pregnant women and the congenitally infected offspring has been poorly explored, and there is still no consensus about its relation to parasite vertical transmission or to severity and dissemination in the congenitally infected newborns. This work aimed to characterize these relations by means of principal component and principal factor analyses. For this purpose, we determined the specific production of the four immunoglobulin G antibody subclasses, cytokines, and lymphocyte proliferation in the T. gondii–infected pregnant women−10 who transmitted the infection to their offspring and seven who did not—as well as in 11 newborns congenitally infected and grouped according to disease severity (five mild and six moderate/severe) and dissemination (four local and seven disseminated). We found that the immune response of nontransmitter women differed from that of the transmitters, the latter having a stronger proinflammatory response, supporting a previous report. We also found that newborns who developed moderate/severe disease presented higher levels of lymphocyte proliferation, particularly of CD8+ and CD19+ cells, a high proportion of tumor necrosis factor α producers, and reduced expression of the immune modulator transforming growth factor β, as opposed to children who developed mild clinical complications. Our results suggest that a distinctive, not regulated, proinflammatory immune response might favor T. gondii vertical transmission and the development of severe clinical manifestations in congenitally infected newborns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number390
JournalFrontiers in immunology
StatePublished - Mar 13 2020


  • TGF-β1
  • Toxoplasma gondii
  • human congenital toxoplasmosis
  • immune response
  • vertical transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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