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Trypanosoma cruzi experimental congenital transmission associated with TcV and TcI subpatent maternal parasitemia

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The congenital transmission of Chagas disease is associated with an increase in parasitemia during pregnancy, maternal and fetal immunity, and populations of Trypanosoma cruzi. In this study, the biological behavior of TcI and TcV (isolated from a human congenital case) strains and their potential for experimental congenital transmission were evaluated in female BALB/C mice. Parasitemia was estimated by fresh blood examination, semiquantitative microhematocrit, and hemoculture, while congenital transmission was evaluated by culture in the liver infusion tryptose medium and by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of the pups’ tissues on postnatal day 7 and of the pups’ blood sample at 30 days after birth. Infection was detected in 100 % of the females. Both strains showed subpatent parasitemia, which was higher for TcV infection. The presence of amastigote nest was detected only in an animal infected with TcI. The inflammatory process was more frequent (p = 0.001) in the tissues of the animals infected with TcV (58.6 %) than TcI (31.1 %). The fertility rates of females mated after 35 days postinfection were similar (90 % for TcV, 88.9 % for TcI; p = 0.938). Parasitemia did not change during pregnancy. The average number of pups/female was greater (p = 0.03) in mice with TcV infection (8.30) than in those with TcI infection (4.78). Congenital transmission was detected exclusively by PCR in 50.9 % of the pups, 46.6 % for TcV and 58.1 % for TcI. The PCR positivity for TcI was higher in the blood than in the tissue (p = 0.003). These results demonstrate the T. cruzi experimental congenital infection associated with subpatent maternal parasitemia of TcI and TcV.

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Congenital transmission rate


Seven-day-old pups


Thirty-day-old pups


Unmated females


Mated females


Inflammatory process


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We thank Luciano Henrique Paiva and Pollyana Aparecida Pinheiro Rodrigues for the technical support. This work was supported by grants from Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq, Universal MCT/CNPq 14/2008), Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais (01/11 CBB APQ 02224/11), Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior, and Fundação de Ensino e Pesquisa de Uberaba–Universidade Federal do Triângulo Mineiro.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Eliane Lages-Silva.

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Alkmim-Oliveira, S.M., Costa-Martins, A.G., Kappel, H.B. et al. Trypanosoma cruzi experimental congenital transmission associated with TcV and TcI subpatent maternal parasitemia. Parasitol Res 112, 671–678 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-012-3184-3

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  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Uninfected Control
  • Trypanosoma Cruzi
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction Positivity
  • Congenital Transmission