Behavioral Changes Induced by Latent Toxoplasmosis Could Arise from CNS Inflammation and Neuropathogenesis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Chronic infection with Toxoplasma gondii, a neurotropic parasite, has been linked to multiple behavioral changes in rodents and humans. The pathogenic mechanisms underlying these correlations are not known. I discuss here from animal studies the distribution of tissue cysts, the constant immune surveillance, the critical role of cyst burden, and the time-dependent consequences, which I believe are crucial to explaining the behavioral changes. In line with the brain-wide distribution of tissue cysts and chronic neuroinflammation, infected mice displayed a broad range of behavioral phenotypes. Many studies suggest that behavioral changes in mice are directly associated with tissue cyst presence or cyst burden and the host immune response. Cyst burden may not exert direct effects; however, the mechanisms causing behavioral and neuropathological changes are potentially the consequence of cyst burden over time, such as the neuroinflammation required to control the reactivation of tissue cysts. The reduction of neuroinflammation has proven that neuropathogenesis and behavioral abnormalities can be reversed, at least partially, in infected mice. Overall, Toxoplasma-induced behavioral changes are likely to be an indirect consequence of the host immune response in a parasite burden-dependent manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCurrent Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Number of pages11
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NameCurrent Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences
ISSN (Print)1866-3370
ISSN (Electronic)1866-3389


  • Behavioral changes
  • Mechanisms
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Neuropathogenesis
  • Tissue cyst
  • Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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