Toxoplasma gondii is a widely distributed obligatory intracellular parasite that causes severe disease to the fetus when transmitted during pregnancy. Drugs used to avoid congenital transmission have shown side effects, and their efficacy is controversial. The most widely used treatment for acute toxoplasmosis during pregnancy is pyrimethamine plus sulfadiazine, which has several side effects. In this work, we tested the efficacy of azithromycin in reducing congenital transmission of T. gondii in the large vesper mouse, Calomys callosus, a rodent. Females of C. callosus were inoculated perorally with 20 cysts of ME49 strain of T. gondii on the day of fertilization, and fetuses were collected from the 15th to the 19th day of gestation. Azithromycin (300 mg/kg), in association with pyrimethamine (100 or 50 mg/kg) plus sulfadiazine (100 or 75 mg/kg) and folinic acid (15 mg/kg) (SPAf), or vehicle, were administered orally on different days after infection. Brain and ocular tissues were removed and processed for immunohistochemistry using a polyclonal antibody against T. gondii, or were processed for parasite DNA quantification. Toxoplasma gondii was detected in the brains of all females and in fetuses' eyes of C. callosus treated with SPAf. On the other hand, in females treated with azithromycin, there was a reduction of T. gondii in the brains of mothers, and no parasites were detected in eyes of fetuses, indicating that azithromycin may represent an alternative treatment for toxoplasmosis during pregnancy.
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