Effect of 2,3,7,8-Tetrachloro-di-benzo- p -dioxin on T Cell Subpopulations in the Thymus and Spleen of Mice with Chronic Toxoplasma gondii Infection
AbstractIn the current study, the effect of exposure to the environmental pollutant, 2,3,7,8-tetrachloro-di-benzo- p -dioxin (TCDD), on mice having chronic infection with Toxoplasma gondii was investigated. For this purpose, four groups of mice were used—mice treated with vehicle, mice treated with TCDD alone, mice infected with T. gondii alone, and mice receiving a combination of TCDD treatment and T. gondii infection. Histological examination and tissue cyst enumeration were performed to indicate the level of infection of the brain. The immune status was studied by enumerating the cellularity as well as the percentages and absolute numbers of the lymphocyte subsets based on the expression of CD4 and CD8 markers in the thymus and spleen. Our studies demonstrated that there was a significant decrease in the total number of thymocytes in TCDD-treated mice that were either uninfected or infected with T. gondii when compared to vehicle controls. However, there was no significant difference observed in thymic cellularity in mice that were infected with T. gondii alone when compared to the uninfected vehicle controls. In addition, the ratio and the total numbers of CD4+, CD8+, CD4–CD8–(double negative, DN) and CD4+CD8+ (double positive, DP) T cell subsets in the thymus from various groups were determined. There was no change in the percentages of T cell subsets in TCDD-treated mice or T. gondii -infected mice when compared to the vehicle controls. However, there was a decrease in the percentage of DPT cells and an increase in the DN and CD8+ T cells in mice that received a combination of TCDD-treatment and T. gondii infection when compared to mice receiving the vehicle or TCDD-treatment alone or infection with T. gondii alone. There was also a decrease in the absolute numbers of the DP and CD4+ T cells and an increase in the CD8+ T cells in the thymus of mice receiving the combination of TCDD-treatment and T. gondii infection when compared to vehicle controls. The splenic cellularity as well as the percentage and absolute numbers of the CD4+ and CD8+ T cell subsets and the non-T cells were not altered in all the groups tested. The natural history of T. gondii infection was not altered following TCDD treatment as demonstrated by no significant differences in brain lesion scores and the number of tissue cysts in the brains of these mice.