Toxoplasma gondii: Simple duplex RT-PCR assay for detecting SAG1 and BAG1 genes during stage conversion in immunosuppressed mice.

Research paper by Aongart A Mahittikorn, Hannes H Wickert, Yaowalark Y Sukthana

Indexed on: 27 Oct '09Published on: 27 Oct '09Published in: Experimental Parasitology


Toxoplasmic encephalitis (TE) is caused by reactivation of dormant bradyzoites into rapidly dividing tachyzoites of the apicomplexan parasite Toxoplasma gondii in immune-compromised hosts. Diagnosis of this life-threatening disease is complicated, since it is difficult to distinguish between these two stages. It is, therefore, mainly based on a test positive for T. gondii antibodies, and specific clinical symptoms. We developed a duplex RT-PCR to detect the expression of bradyzoite (BAG1) and tachyzoite (SAG1) specific genes simultaneously during tachyzoite/bradyzoite stage conversion. The conversion reaction was observed in many organs of experimental mice, indicated by tachyzoites in the cerebrum, cerebellum, heart and lung, beginning in week 1 after the suppression period, and continuing until the end. Bradyzoites were also detected in nearly all organs throughout the study, suggesting that during the reactivation period, bradyzoites not only escape from cysts and reinvade neighboring cells as tachyzoites, but are also driven into developing new bradyzoites. The results of our study show that duplex RT-PCR is an easy, rapid, sensitive, and reproducible method, which is particularly valuable when numerous samples must be analyzed. This technique may usefully serve as an alternate tool for diagnosing TE in severely immunocompromised patients.