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Toxoplasma gondii , the causative agent of toxoplasmosis, is an obligate intracellular parasite that infects warm-blooded vertebrates across the world. In humans, seropositivity rates of T. gondii range from 10% to 90%. Despite its prevalence, few studies address how T. gondii infection changes the metabolism of host cells. Here, we investigate how T. gondii manipulates the host cell metabolic environment by monitoring metabolic response over time using non-invasive autofluorescence lifetime imaging of single cells, seahorse metabolic flux analysis, reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, and metabolomics. Autofluorescence lifetime imaging indicates that infected host cells become more oxidized and have an increased proportion of bound NAD(P)H with infection. These findings are consistent with changes in mitochondrial and glycolytic function, decrease of intracellular glucose, fluctuations in lactate and ROS production in infected cells over time. We also examined changes associated with the pre-invasion "kiss and spit" process using autofluorescence lifetime imaging, which similarly showed a more oxidized host cell with an increased proportion of bound NAD(P)H over 48 hours. Glucose metabolic flux analysis indicated that these changes are driven by NADH and NADP+ in T. gondii infection. In sum, metabolic changes in host cells with T. gondii infection were similar during full infection, and kiss and spit. Autofluorescence lifetime imaging can non-invasively monitor metabolic changes in host cells over a microbial infection time-course.


Gina M Gallego-López, Emmanuel Contreras Guzman, Laura J Knoll, Melissa Skala. Metabolic changes to host cells with Toxoplasma gondii infection. bioRxiv : the preprint server for biology. 2023 Aug 10

PMID: 37609172

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