Toxoplasmosis, caused by Toxoplasma gondii, is associated with several clinical syndromes, including encephalitis, chorioretinitis, and congenital infection. Toxoplasma gondii is a ubiquitous apicomplexan parasite found in both humans and animals. Mongolian gerbils, which are more susceptible to both high- and low-virulence Toxoplasma strains compared with mice, are considered useful models for assessing diagnosis and treatment methods for toxoplasmosis, as well as infection by and host defense to this organism. Here we established a quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) method targeting the B1 gene for early and specific detection of T. gondii infection in Mongolian gerbil. The detection limit of the developed qPCR was approximately 1 T. gondii tachyzoite. This method was also applied to detect T. gondii genomic DNA in experimentally infected Mongolian gerbils, with positive results in blood (66.7%), liver (73.3%), lung (80.0%), spleen (80.0%), and peritoneal fluid (66.7%) samples as early as 1 day postinfection. Specificity tests confirmed no cross-reactivity with DNA templates of Neospora caninum, Cryptosporidium parvum, Eimeria tenella, Trypanosoma evansi, Schistosoma japonicum, Angiostrongylus cantonensis, and Strongyloides stercoralis. This study first reports the use of Mongolian gerbils as an animal model for early diagnosis of toxoplasmosis by qPCR.
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Vol. 105 • No. 1