We investigated levels of Toxoplasma gondii–specific antibodies present in sera, intestinal secretions, and fecal extracts obtained from cats following primary and challenge infections. Antibodies specific to T. gondii tachyzoites, bradyzoites, sporozoites, and enteroepithelial stages were detected by indirect immunofluorescence assay. Enteroepithelial stage–specific antibodies were detected in serum as early as 2 wk after infection, whereas antibodies from intestinal secretions did not appear until 3 wk following infection. The T. gondii–specific IgG and IgA antibodies were present in serum, but only specific IgA antibodies were detected in the intestinal secretions. Serum IgG bound to tachyzoites, bradyzoites, sporozoites, and enteroepithelial stages of T. gondii, whereas serum IgA bound strongly to enteroepithelial stages but only weakly to tachyzoites and bradyzoites. IgA from intestinal secretions bound to antigens on all enteroepithelial stages and the distal tips of sporozoites and bradyzoites but did not bind to tachyzoites. IgA present in fecal extracts also bound to enteroepithelial stages of T. gondii. Toxoplasma gondii infection in cats induces the production of antibodies that bind with all forms of the parasite, including the enteroepithelial stages. Comparison of the staining patterns of T. gondii stages for serum and intestinal secretion IgA indicated differences. Thus, the intestinal antibody immune response may be uniquely focused on the intestinal stages relative to the circulating antibodies, resulting in a compartmentalization of the humoral response.
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