As an immune-privileged organ, the placenta can tolerate the introduction of antigens without inducing a strong inflammatory response that would lead to abortion. However, for the control of intracellular pathogens, a strong Th1 response characterized by the production of interferon-γ is needed. Thus, invasion of the placenta by intracellular parasites puts the maternal immune system in a quandary: The proinflammatory response needed to eliminate the pathogen can also lead to abortion. Toxoplasma is a highly successful parasite that causes lifelong chronic infections and is a major cause of abortions in humans and livestock. Here, we discuss how Toxoplasma strain type and parasite effectors influence host cell signaling pathways, and we speculate about how this might affect the outcome of gestation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases