Dogma holds that Toxoplasma gondii persists in neurons because neurons cannot clear intracellular parasites, even with IFN-γ stimulation. As several recent studies questioned this idea, here we use primary murine neuronal cultures from wild type and transgenic mice in combination with IFN-γ stimulation and parental and transgenic parasites to reassess IFN-γ dependent neuronal clearance of intracellular parasites. We find that neurons respond to IFN-γ and that a subset of neurons clear intracellular parasites via immunity regulated GTPases. Whole neuron reconstructions from mice infected with parasites that trigger neuron GFP expression only after full invasion reveal that ~50% of these T. gondii-invaded neurons no longer harbor parasites. Finally, IFN-γ stimulated human pluripotent stem cell derived neurons show an ~50% decrease in parasite infection rate when compared to unstimulated cultures. This work highlights the capability of human and murine neurons to mount cytokine-dependent anti-T. gondii defense mechanisms in vitro and in vivo.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)