Mouse model for Chagas disease: immunohistochemical distribution of different stages of Trypanosoma cruzi in tissues throughout infection.

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  • 1 Division of Parasitic Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA.

Different stages of Trypanosoma cruzi are seen during mammalian infection. Histologic sections of infected hearts have shown amastigotes and, when using immunohistochemistry (IHC), parasite antigens; however, demonstration of trypomastigotes in these tissues has proven elusive. Using a mouse strain that develops chagasic cardiomyopathy (histologically similar to human infection) 70 days after injecting T. cruzi-Brazil strain, we studied the distribution of parasite stages and the extent of inflammation. All organs had varying amounts of mononuclear inflammation by day 10, which peaked between day 20 and day 30, and decreased by day 50. Amastigotes were detected in myocytes, histiocytes, acinar pancreatic cells, astrocytes and ependymal cells by day 10, and the number of amastigotes peaked on day 30. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated trypomastigotes in sinusoids, vessels and interstitial tissues of several organs between day 15 and 50. Abundant parasite antigens (granular staining) were detected in connective tissues throughout the infection. The burden of amastigotes and trypomastigotes during the acute phase seems to correlate with the degree of inflammation and granular staining in the chronic stage.