The parasite Toxoplasma gondii has some favorable effects on the pathogenesis and progression of a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease, reports a Mar. 21 study in the open access journal PLoS ONE.
Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite commonly hosted in cats and generally known for the potential complications it can cause for human pregnancies, suppressed the immune system.
The researchers behind today's study, led by Eun-Hee Shin of the Seoul National University College of Medicine, found that this immune system suppression had positive effects on Alzheimer's disease mouse models, resulting in a significant decrease in the amount of b-amyloid plaque deposition, a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, and better performance in behavior tests like a water maze.
Explore further: 'Promiscuous parasites' hijack host immune cells
Jung B-K, Pyo K-H, Shin KY, Hwang YS, Lim H, et al. (2012) Toxoplasma gondii Infection in the Brain Inhibits Neuronal Degeneration and Learning and Memory Impairments in a Murine Model of Alzheimer's Disease. PLoS ONE 7(3): e33312. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033312