Click for abstract
The intracellular protozoan Toxoplasma gondii is an exceptionally successful food and waterborne parasite that infects approximately 1 billion people worldwide. Genotyping of T. gondii isolates from all continents revealed a complex population structure. Recent research supports the notion that T. gondii genotype may be associated with disease severity. Here, we (1) discuss molecular and serological approaches for designation of T. gondii strain type, (2) overview the literatures on the association of T. gondii strain type and the outcome of human disease and (3) explore possible mechanisms underlying these strain-specific pathology and severity of human toxoplasmosis. Although no final conclusions can be drawn, it is clear that virulent strains (e.g. strains containing type I or atypical alleles) are significantly more often associated with increased frequency and severity of human toxoplasmosis. The significance of highly virulent strains can cause severe diseases in immunocompetent patients and might implicated in brain disorders such as schizophrenia should led to reconsideration of toxoplasmosis. Further studies that combine parasite strain typing and human factor analysis (e.g. immune status and genetic background) are required for better understanding of human susceptibility or resistance to toxoplasmosis.