Sera from 243 donors belonging to the four main ethnic groups in West Malaysia (Orang Asli, Malays, Chinese and Indians) were tested, using the indirect fluorescent antibody technique for the prevalence of antibodies to Sarcocystis. Almost 20% reacted positively at dilutions of 1:64 or higher and eight among the Orang Asli and Malays gave the highest titres of 1:256. Prevalence was highest in the Orang Asli and lowest in Chinese. 22 sera also reacted positively to Toxoplasma, whether due to polyparasitism or cross-reaction is, as yet, unknown.
We have developed an ELISA that employs monoclonal anti-Toxoplasma SAG1 (p30) as the capture antibody to detect T. gondii circulating antigens in patients' serum samples. Using serum spiked with Toxoplasma soluble and with SAG1 recombinant proteins, the detection limits were 31.25 ng/mL and 62.50 ng/mL, respectively. We obtained positive results in 28% (21/75) and 11% (23/206) of probable active and chronic toxoplasmosis serum samples, respectively. Western blot analysis on pooled antigen-positive serum samples showed antigenic bands of molecular weights 25 and 75 kDa from sera of probable active infection and five antigenic bands ranging in size from 26 to 33 kDa from chronic infection sera. This assay would be useful as an initial serum selection step in developing a Toxoplasma antigen detection test and for characterization studies.
Toxoplasmosis is an opportunistic infection caused by the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii. T. gondii is widespread globally and causes severe diseases in individuals with impaired immune defences as well as congenitally infected infants. The high prevalence rate in some parts of the world such as South America and Africa, coupled with the current drug treatments that trigger hypersensitivity reactions, makes the development of immunotherapeutics intervention a highly important research priority. Immunotherapeutics strategies could either be a vaccine which would confer a pre-emptive immunity to infection, or passive immunization in cases of disease recrudescence or recurrent clinical diseases. As the severity of clinical manifestations is often greater in developing nations, the development of well-tolerated and safe immunotherapeutics becomes not only a scientific pursuit, but a humanitarian enterprise. In the last few years, much progress has been made in vaccine research with new antigens, novel adjuvants, and innovative vaccine delivery such as nanoparticles and antigen encapsulations. A literature search over the past 5 years showed that most experimental studies were focused on DNA vaccination at 52%, followed by protein vaccination which formed 36% of the studies, live attenuated vaccinations at 9%, and heterologous vaccination at 3%; while there were few on passive immunization. Recent progress in studies on vaccination, passive immunization, as well as insights gained from these immunotherapeutics is highlighted in this review.
Numerous studies have reported the prevalence of toxoplasmosis among Malaysians and various domestic animals; but there is paucity of information on its prevalence among rodents which could potentially contribute to the transmission of Toxoplasma gondii in both domestic and sylvatic fauna. Five hundred twenty-six rodents were captured from six locations in Malaysia and identified to species. Serum samples were collected from these rodents and tested for T.gondii antibodies using an immunofluorescent antibody test (IFAT). T.gondii antibodies were found in 5.9% (31/526) of the tested samples. Most of the positive antibodies were from commensal rats: Rattus exulans (9/64, 14.0%), Rattus argentiventer (2/8, 25%), Rattus rattus diardii (10/166, 6.0%) and Rattus tiomanicus (6/215, 2.7%). Only two of the forest rats were positive: Maxomys rajah (1/9, 11.1%) and Rattus bowersi (1/12, 8.3%). Eighteen point one percent of ground squirrels (Tupaia glis) tested (2/11) were positive for antibodies. The highest antibodies titer (1:1024) was found in Rattus exulans followed by T.glis (1:256). Sabak Bernam, Selangor had the highest prevalence (10.8%) followed by Baling, Kedah (5.0%) and Bagan Terap, Selangor (4.0%). None of the serum samples of rodents collected from Gua Musang, Kelantan; Jasin, Malacca; or Labis, Johor were positive. Our study reports for the first time the serologic prevalence of T.gondii antibodies among rodents in Peninsular Malaysia. Further studies are needed to confirm T.gondii infection among wild rodents, such as a bioassay, to assess their potential role in transmission of the parasite.
Toxoplasmosis is an important cause of congenital infection. The present study was performed to evaluate the usefulness of recombinant (r) GRA-7 cloned from nucleotides (n) 39-711 in discriminating between acute and chronic toxoplasmosis. First, commercial IgM, IgG and IgG avidity ELISAs were used to determine the serological profile of the sera. Serum samples were from 20 symptomatic patients with acute infection (low IgG avidity, IgM positive), 10 with chronic infection (high IgG avidity, IgM negative) and 10 with indeterminate IgG avidity (IgM positive) which were tested for IgG avidity status with an in-house developed IgG avidity Western blot using the rGRA-7 recombinant antigen. All 20 sera from cases of probable acute infection showed bands which either faded out completely or reduced significantly in intensity after treatment with 8 M urea, whereas the band intensities of the 10 serum samples from chronic cases remained the same. Of the 10 sera with indeterminate IgG avidity status, after treatment with 8 M urea the band intensities with six sera remained the same, two sera had completely faded bands and another two sera had significantly reduced band intensities. Discrimination between acute and chronic toxoplasmosis was successfully performed by the in-house IgG avidity Western blot.
Toxoplasmosis can cause serious disease in immunocompromised patients and to congenitally infected foetuses. Appropriate laboratory investigations in potential cases of acute Toxoplasma infection are important. Excretory secretory antigen (ESA) is immunogenic during both human and experimental infections, therefore is considered as a good candidate for investigation into new infection markers. In this study, ESA was prepared from in vitro cultures of Toxoplasma gondii to identify T. gondii ESA antigenic component(s) that is/are most reactive with serum samples from probable acute cases of toxoplasmosis. Serum samples were obtained from several categories of individuals with the following Toxoplasma serology: Group I: IgM+ IgG+ (low IgG avidity) or IgM+ IgG- from sera of patients who had clinical query of toxoplasmosis (n=35). Group II: IgM- IgG+ (high IgG avidity) from chronically infected individuals (n=30). Group III: normal/healthy individuals with anti-Toxoplasma IgMIgG- (n=20). Group IV: individuals with other infections who had anti-Toxoplasma IgM- IgG- (n=10). The ESA was subjected to SDS-PAGE, followed by Western blot analysis using the above sera and probed with peroxidase conjugated anti-human IgM and IgA antibodies. The blots were then developed using chemiluminescence substrate. The selected antigenic band was excised from the gel after two dimensional electrophoresis and sent for mass spectrometry analysis using MALDI TOF-TOF. The most promising antigenic band was a 10 kDa protein which showed sensitivity of 80% in both IgM and IgA blots, and specificity of 96.7% with sera from other infections and healthy controls. The two best identifications for the 10 kDa band were ubiquitin (ribosomal protein CEP52 fusion protein) and polyubiquitin.
A total of 736 sera collected from cord blood babies, children and adults of both sexes and of different age groups in Malaysia were tested using indirect fluorescent antibody technique for Toxoplasma antibodies. The RH strain of Toxoplasma gondii zoites were used as antigen. One hundred and twenty five sera which were reactive at 1:64 or high titres were tested with IgM specific conjugate. Results of the present studies showed that the prevalence of Toxoplasma antibody was highest among the Malays and lowest among children than among adults. The significance of Toxoplasma specific IgM was discussed.
SAG1-related sequence 3 (SRS3) is one of the major Toxoplasma gondii tachyzoite surface antigens and has been shown to be potentially useful for the detection of toxoplasmosis. This protein is highly conformational due to the presence of six disulfide bonds. To achieve solubility and antigenicity, SRS3 depends on proper disulfide bond formation. The aim of this study was to over-express the SRS3 protein with correct folding for use in serodiagnosis of the disease. To achieve this, a truncated SRS3 fusion protein (rtSRS3) was produced, containing six histidyl residues at both terminals and purified by immobilized metal affinity chromatography. The refolding process was performed through three methods, namely dialysis in the presence of chemical additives along with reduced/oxidized glutathione and drop-wise dilution methods with reduced/oxidized glutathione or reduced DTT/oxidized glutathione. Ellman's assay and ELISA showed that the protein folding obtained by the dialysis method was the most favorable, probably due to the correct folding. Subsequently, serum samples from individuals with chronic infection (n = 76), probable acute infection (n = 14), and healthy controls (n = 81) were used to determine the usefulness of the refolded rtSRS3 for Toxoplasma serodiagnosis. The results of the developed IgG-ELISA showed a diagnostic specificity of 91% and a sensitivity of 82.89% and 100% for chronic and acute serum samples, respectively. In conclusion, correctly folded rtSRS3 has the potential to be used as a soluble antigen for the detection of human toxoplasmosis.
Mice were chronically infected with cysts of ME49 strain of Toxoplasma gondii. At different periods post-infection, their spleens were removed and single cell suspensions were made. Lymphocyte transformation experiments were performed on the lymphocyte suspensions using three different kinds of antigens of ME49 strain of T. gondii, namely soluble, excretory/secretory and cystic forms. The results showed that the pattern of lymphocyte responsiveness was dependent on the kind of antigen employed for induction of the blastogenesis. Using soluble and cystic forms of the antigen, different periods of lymphocyte suppression and lymphocyte proliferation were demonstrated. However, with the use of excretory/secretory antigen, no significant suppression of lymphocyte stimulation was noted throughout the course of infection. Thus excretory/secretory antigen may be the best form of antigen for stimulation of the cell-mediated immune response and hence it appears to be a good candidate for vaccine in toxoplasmosis.
Various studies on toxoplasmosis in Malaysia have shown that specific antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii are common among Malaysians. Among the ethnic groups, the Malays have the highest prevalence rate followed by Indians, Orang Aslis (aborigines) and Chinese. Antibody is acquired early in life and increases with age. There is no significant difference in the prevalence rate between males and females. The disease is apparently more prevalent among rural dwellers and those in the lower socioeconomic group. It appears that the prevalence rate is also influenced by environmental conditions, occupation, diet and cultural habits. Studies with animals have shown the presence of antibody to T. gondii, but this does not seem to be the source of infection since Malaysians normally cook their meat well.
Thirty in vitro serial passages of Toxoplasman gondii cultures in Vero cell line performed once in every five days had a mean increase in parasite count of 74.4 +/- 14.8 times from that of initial counts. Long term cultures in Vero cell line did not alter the virulence of the parasite. The good correlation (r = 0.99) between the IFA titer and ELISA OD values using the parasite antigens from in vitro sources indicates that long term maintenance of T. gondii in culture does not affect significantly the ability to recognize antibodies to surface and soluble antigens. The results also show that soluble antigens containing host cells can be directly used for immunodiagnostic purposes without purification. The in vitro maintenance of T. gondii is safer and cheaper when compared to the in vivo method.
C57BL/6 mice were orally infected with different doses of cysts of ME49 strain of Toxoplasma gondii to produce groups of acutely and chronically infected mice. Sera were obtained at different periods post-infection. SDS-PAGE was ran with excretory/secretory antigens of ME49 and RH strains of T. gondii, followed by Western blot analyses using the above sera and anti- IgA, IgM, IgG as conjugates. The SDS-PAGE profiles of the two antigens were similar. However the antigenic bands showed variations in all blots, most evidently in IgA blots of chronic sera. IgG blots showed greatest similarities in reactive bands. In IgM blots, more common bands were shown in chronic sera than in acute sera. Variations and similarities in prominence of some bands and time of their appearance were also noted, especially in IgM and IgG blots of chronic sera. Thus antigenic variations and similarities are present in excretory/secretory products of different strains of T. gondii.
Toxoplasmosis was found not to be an important cause of intrauterine infection in Malaysia as the rate of toxoplasma-specific IgM in 1,060 congenitally defective Malaysian children, 0 to 4 months old (0.4%) was lower than that in 405 normal children of the same age group (2.0%). A total of 8.2 intra-uterine toxoplasmic infections per 1,000 live births was detected of which one-third (2.7 per 1,000 live births) was overt, manifesting symptoms more of liver damage, than eye or brain damage. A comparison was made with the rates in U.S.A. and Europe. The role of toxoplasmosis in abortion needs to be studied.
Flourescent antibody test (FAT) was applied to determine the cross-reactivities of monoclonal (mAb), polyclonal (pAb) antibodies to Neospora, Toxoplasma and Cryptosporidium and antisera from cattle naturally infected with Neospora canium against antigens from a number of sources. Both mAb and pAb to Neospora reacted strongly (FAT titre up to 2560) with the homologous antigens and demonstrated weak titre (80) or no reaction with both Toxoplasma and Cryptosporidium antigens. Also mAb and pAb to Toxoplasma gondii reacted at titres of 80 - 640 with homologous antigens and at titres of 10-40 with N. caninum. No cross-reactions with either mAb or pAb antibodies to N. caninum and T. gondii were observed with Cryptosporidium parvum. The same results were observed with C. parvum mAb when tested with both N. caninum and T. gondii antigens. Sera from cattle naturally infected with N. caninum had titres ranging from 80- 640 with N. caninum antigens, and 10- 40 with T. gondii and C. parvum antigens. At low dilutions, the complete surfaces of Neospora and Toxoplasma parasites were fluorescent, while in higher dilutions only dotted fluorescence appeared on the apical complex. These results indicated the presence of cross-reactivity between Neospora and Toxoplasma but not with Cryptosporidium. Accordingly the recommended cut-off antibody titre for diagnosis of neosporosis is 80.
Serological investigation remains the primary approach to achieve satisfactory results in Toxoplasma gondii identification. However, the accuracy of the native antigen used in the current diagnostic kits has proven to be insufficient as well as difficult to standardize, so significant efforts have been made to find alternative reagents as capture antigens. Consequently, multi-epitope peptides are promising diagnostic markers, with the potential for improving the accuracy of diagnostic kits. In this study, we described a simple, inexpensive and improved strategy to acquire such diagnostic markers. The study was aimed at producing novel synthetic protein consisting of multiple immunodominant epitopes of several T. gondii antigens.
Toxoplasmosis, being one of the TORCH's infections in pregnant women, is caused by Toxoplasma gondii, an obligate intracellular protozoan parasite. This parasitic infection in pregnancy congenitally causes severe outcomes to their fetus and newborn. This study aimed to determine the seroprevalence and stages of Toxoplasma infection in pregnant women and its associated risks exposures.
Toxoplasma gondii infects all warm-blooded animals including humans, causing serious public health problems and great economic loss in the food industry. Commonly used serological tests involve preparation of whole Toxoplasma lysate antigens from tachyzoites which are costly and hazardous. An alternative method for better antigen production involving the prokaryotic expression system was therefore used in this study. Recombinant dense granular protein, GRA2, was successfully cloned, expressed, and purified in Escherichia coli, BL21 (DE3) pLysS. The potential of this purified antigen for diagnosis of human infections was evaluated through western blot analysis against 100 human serum samples. Results showed that the rGRA2 protein has 100 and 61.5 % sensitivity towards acute and chronic infection, respectively, in T. gondii-infected humans, indicating that this protein is useful in differentiating present and past infections. Therefore, it is suitable to be used as a sensitive and specific molecular marker for the serodiagnosis of Toxoplasma infection in both humans and animals.