Neuroinvasion of Toxocara canis- and T. cati-larvae mediates dynamic changes in brain cytokine and chemokine profile
BACKGROUND:Neurotoxocarosis (NT) is induced by larvae of the dog or cat roundworm (Toxocara canis or T. cati) migrating and persisting in the central nervous system of paratenic hosts, including humans, and may be accompanied by severe neurological symptoms. Host- or parasite-induced immunoregulatory processes contribute to the pathogenesis, but detailed data on pathogenic mechanisms and involvement of signalling molecules during cerebral Toxocara species infections are scarce. METHODS:To elucidate alterations in immunomodulatory mediator pattern, comprehensive multiplex bead array assays profiling comprising 23 different cytokines and chemokines were performed during the course of T. canis- and T. cati-induced NT. To this end, cerebra and cerebella of experimentally infected C57Bl/6 J mice serving as paratenic host models were analysed at six different time points (days 7, 14, 28, 42, 70 and 98) post infectionem (pi). RESULTS:Brain-body mass ratios of T. canis and T. cati-infected mice were significantly lower than those of the uninfected control group at day 14 pi, and also at day 28 pi for T. canis-infected mice. Both infection groups showed a continuous decrease of pro-inflammatory cytokine concentrations, including TNF-α, IFN-γ, GM-CSF and IL-6, in the cerebrum over the course of infection. Additionally, T. canis but not T. cati-induced neurotoxocarosis was characterised by significantly elevated levels of anti-inflammatory IL-4 and IL-5 in the cerebrum in the acute and subacute phase of the disease. The higher neuroaffinity of T. canis led to a prominent increase of eotaxin and MIP-1α in both the cerebrum and cerebellum, while in T. cati-infected mice, these chemokines were significantly elevated only in the cerebellum. CONCLUSIONS:The direct comparison of T. canis- and T. cati-induced NT provides valuable insights into key regulatory mechanisms of Toxocara species in paratenic hosts. The cerebral cyto-/chemokine milieu is shifted to a predominantly anti-inflammatory immune response during NT, possibly enabling both survival of the parasite and the neuroinfected paratenic host. Alteration of eotaxin and MIP-1α concentrations are congruent with the higher neuroaffinity of T. canis and species-specific tropism of T. canis to the cerebrum and T. cati to the cerebellum.