Tritrichomonas foetus is the cause of trichomoniasis in cattle. Severe infection is often associated with heavy neutrophil and macrophage accumulation, although it is not known how this response protects during early parasite colonization. The goal of this study was to examine the effects of an early host response upon initial T. foetus colonization within the murine reproductive tract. Mice depleted of neutrophils before T. foetus infection had a significantly higher parasite burden within the reproductive tract compared with mock-depleted control mice. Additionally, gp91phox−/−/iNOS−/− , and iNOS−/− mice had substantially larger parasite burdens than C57BL/6 control mice, whereas gp91phox−/− mice had similar parasite burden to C57BL/6 control mice. Interestingly, phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate-stimulated neutrophils and macrophages isolated from all groups of mice were unable to kill T. foetus in vitro. However, macrophages isolated from gp91phox−/− and C57BL/6 mice stimulated with interferon-γ and lipopolysaccharide were able to kill T. foetus in vitro, whereas macrophages isolated from gp91phox−/−/iNOS−/− and iNOS−/− mice were unable to kill T. foetus, suggesting the ability of macrophages to produce reactive nitrogen species but not reactive oxygen species (ROS) is critical for parasite killing during early infection in vivo and in vitro. Additionally, neutrophils seem to control early dissemination of T. foetus throughout the reproductive tract, although production of ROS is not critical for this process.
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