Systematic review and meta-analysis of variation in Toxoplasma gondii cyst burden in the murine model

Gabrielle F. Watson, Paul H. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular protozoan parasite that infects approximately 30% of the population of the United States, with worldwide distribution. The chronic (latent) infection, mediated by the bradyzoite parasite life stage, has attracted attention due to possible links to host behavioral alteration and psychomotor effects. Mice are a common model organism for studying the chronic stage, as they are natural hosts of infection. Notably, published studies demonstrate vast ranges of measured cyst burden within the murine brain tissue. The inconsistency of measured cyst burden within and between experiments makes interpretation of statistical significance difficult, potentially confounding studies of experimental anti-parasitic approaches. This review analyzes variation in measured cyst burden in a wide array of experimental mouse infections across published literature. Factors such as parasite infection strain, mouse strain, mode of infection, and infectious dose were all examined. The lowest variation in measured cyst burden occurred with the commonly available Balb/c and CBA mice undergoing infection by the ME49 strain of T. gondii. A summary of cyst variation and average cyst counts in T. gondii mouse models is presented, which may be useful for designing future experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-62
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental Parasitology
StatePublished - Jan 2019


  • Chronic infection
  • Cyst variability
  • Method of infection
  • Murine models
  • Toxoplasma gondii

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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