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Video: Toxoplasmosis: Researchers Reveal Why Mice Are No Longer Afraid
2023 Author: Lynn Laird | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 21:10
In an article published in the journal Cell Reports, researchers at the University of Geneva revealed what was happening with mice infected with the Toxoplasmosis parasite. Several studies have already shown that rodents infected with the Toxoplasma gondii parasite have a specific attraction to cats. The important discovery showed that toxoplasmosis, by acting directly on the brain of a mouse, removed any feeling of fear.
Toxoplasmosis: researchers reveal why mice are no longer afraid
According to UNIGE researchers, the toxoplasmosis parasite drastically modifies the behavior of mice, by colonizing the brain of the infected rodent in the form of cysts. In this way, the mice lose their fear of cats, but also their general behavior in the face of curiosity, anxiety and stress is altered. There are several hypotheses regarding how such a small creature as the virus can gain control over organs as complex as brains. One of the most privileged considers that the cysts in the neurons of the infected brain increase the secretion of dopamine. In humans, correlations have been observed between toxoplasmosis and neurological impacts, resulting from the effects of cysts caused by inflammation of the brain.
The objective of the Toxoplasma gondii parasite is to reach the intestines of the cat, the only host in which it can reproduce sexually. And, to achieve its goal, the parasite first infects the mouse. By drastically changing her behavior, he makes her easy prey. Once in the intestine of the cat, its definitive host, the parasite produces highly infectious oocytes which are expelled via the feces.
Toxoplasmosis is a persistent chronic infection in its host in the form of cysts present in muscles and brain, especially in humans. It can be caught by eating undercooked meat, earthy vegetables and poorly washed fruit, or by cleaning your cat's litter box.
In humans, 30% to 80% of the population is infected. But it's important to know that the infection usually remains latent. The human immune system, except deficiency, manages to control the evolution of cysts. Toxoplasmosis is also dangerous for the fetus if the mother contracts the infection for the first time during pregnancy.
Find out more about the study by UNIGE researchers by visiting the full article on the Cell Reports website.