Folia Parasitologica, vol. 57 (2010), issue 2

Folia Parasitologica 57[2] 95-104 (2010) | 10.14411/fp.2010.012

Toxoplasma gondii-altered host behaviour: clues as to mechanism of action

Joanne P. Webster1, Glenn A. McConkey2
1 Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College, Faculty of Medicine, London, W2 1PG, UK
2 Institute of Integrative and Comparative Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK

A convincing body of evidence now exists, from both human and animal studies, and encompassing epidemiological to experimental, to indicate that the common protozoan Toxoplasma gondii can cause specific behavioural changes in its host. Such behavioural alterations are likely to be the product of strong selective pressures for the parasite to enhance transmission from its intermediate host reservoir, primarily rodent, to its feline definitive host, wherein sexual reproduction can occur and the parasite's life cycle completed. Here we consider what the available data to date may reveal about the potential mechanisms involved, the future research that needs to be performed, and the subsequent implications for animal and human health.

Keywords: Toxoplasma gondii, rodents, behaviour, schizophrenia, mechanisms, dopamine

Received: January 6, 2010; Accepted: March 19, 2010; Published: June 1, 2010


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