An ultrastructural study of the effect of treatment with atovaquone in brains of mice chronically infected with the ME49 strain of Toxoplasma gondii.
Ferguson DJ., Huskinson-Mark J., Araujo FG., Remington JS.
The morphological effects of drug treatment with atovaquone in the brains of mice chronically infected with Toxoplasma gondii was examined by light and electron microscopy. As early as 1 and 2 weeks of treatment there appeared to be fewer tissue cysts compared to untreated controls and this reduction was more significant after 4 weeks treatment. There also appeared to be a decrease in the number of inflammatory nodules and the severity of the meningitis. Ultrastructurally, the cysts of both treated and control animals were located within host cells. There was a marked increase in both the number of cysts with lysed bradyzoites and the number of degenerate bradyzoites after 4 weeks treatment. It is probable that the drug is more active against the metabolically active immature bradyzoites than the mature organisms. Drug treatment does not appear to result in rupture of tissue cysts or release of Toxoplasma antigens since there is a reduction rather than an increase in the inflammatory response. This drug may be useful in treating chronic toxoplasmosis since it appears to be active against the bradyzoites reducing the parasite burden (cyst number) without initiating a destructive inflammatory response.