Indexed on: 09 Sep '09Published on: 09 Sep '09Published in: Expert review of anti-infective therapy
Atherosclerosis and toxoplasmosis are two widely prevalent diseases worldwide. The relationship between these diseases is now being elucidated. Atherosclerosis is a disease with three main components: increased blood lipoprotein/cholesterol and their deposition in the arterial wall, an important Th1-mediated proinflammatory reaction and thrombogenic status. Toxoplasma gondii, in turn, is dependent on host cholesterol for optimal intracellular growth and replication. As a result, host cholesterol will be cleared from the blood, reducing plasma low-density lipoprotein, a crucial atherosclerosis risk factor. On the other hand, T. gondii infection elicits an important Th1 systemic inflammatory response in the host. Therefore, this additional proinflammatory stimulus may impose an enhanced pro-atherogenic environment in the host. As result, the association between these two diseases in one individual could change the course of atherosclerosis. In this review, we demonstrate that the host-parasite relationship is complex and that the outcome of each disease is dependent on the availability of intracellular cholesterol, as well as the intensity of the inflammatory reaction triggered by the parasite. We also discuss the possible clinical implications of these studies.