Catastrophic consequences: Can the feline parasite Toxoplasma gondii prompt the purrfect neuroinflammatory storm following traumatic brain injury?

Tamara L. Baker, Mujun Sun, Bridgette D. Semple, Shiraz Tyebji, Christopher J. Tonkin, Richelle Mychasiuk, Sandy R. Shultz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide; however, treatment development is hindered by the heterogenous nature of TBI presentation and pathophysiology. In particular, the degree of neuroinflammation after TBI varies between individuals and may be modified by other factors such as infection. Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that infects approximately one-third of the world's population, has a tropism for brain tissue and can persist as a life-long infection. Importantly, there is notable overlap in the pathophysiology between TBI and T. gondii infection, including neuroinflammation. This paper will review current understandings of the clinical problems, pathophysiological mechanisms, and functional outcomes of TBI and T. gondii, before considering the potential synergy between the two conditions. In particular, the discussion will focus on neuroinflammatory processes such as microglial activation, inflammatory cytokines, and peripheral immune cell recruitment that occur during T. gondii infection and after TBI. We will present the notion that these overlapping pathologies in TBI individuals with a chronic T. gondii infection have the strong potential to exacerbate neuroinflammation and related brain damage, leading to amplified functional deficits. The impact of chronic T. gondii infection on TBI should therefore be investigated in both preclinical and clinical studies as the possible interplay could influence treatment strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number222
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Neuroinflammation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2020


  • Astrocytes
  • Immune response
  • Infection
  • Microglia
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Parasite

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