Histopathological features of ocular toxoplasmosis in the fetus and infant.
Roberts F., Mets MB., Ferguson DJ., O'Grady R., O'Grady C., Thulliez P., Brézin AP., McLeod R.
BACKGROUND: Ocular disease is a frequent manifestation of congenital Toxoplasma gondii infection. There are only limited data available in the literature concerning early stages of this disease in fetuses and infants. The purpose of our study was to characterize histopathological features in the eyes of 10 fetuses and 2 infants with congenital toxoplasmosis. METHODS: Fifteen eyes from 10 fetuses, 3 eyes from 2 premature infants, and both eyes from a 2-year-old child with congenital toxoplasmosis were examined by light microscopy. Immunohistochemical analysis to identify inflammatory cells and T gondii antigens was performed. The findings in infected eyes were compared with those of age-matched control eyes. RESULTS: Retinitis (10/18 eyes), retinal necrosis (4/18 eyes), disruption of the retinal pigment epithelium (12/18 eyes), and choroidal inflammation and congestion (15/18 eyes) were characteristic findings. Optic neuritis was present in 5 of 8 fetal eyes with associated optic nerve available for evaluation. An eye obtained from a 32-week-old fetus showed retinal rosettes at the edge of a scar. T cells predominated in retinal lesions and choroid. Parasites were identified by immunohistochemical analysis in 10 of 18 eyes. CONCLUSIONS: Ocular toxoplasmosis causes irreversible damage to the retina in utero. The fetus and infant mount inflammatory responses that may contribute to ocular damage. These findings have important implications for serological screening programs and in utero therapy.