Typically illustrating the ‘manipulation hypothesis’, Toxoplasma gondii is widely known to trigger sustainable behavioural changes during chronic infection of intermediate hosts to enhance transmission to its feline definitive hosts, ensuring survival and dissemination. During the chronic stage of infection in rodents, a variety of neurological dysfunctions have been unravelled and correlated with the loss of cat fear, among other phenotypic impacts. However, the underlying neurological alteration(s) driving these behavioural modifications is only partially understood, which makes it difficult to draw more than a correlation between T. gondii infection and changes in brain homeostasis. Moreover, it is barely known which among the brain regions governing fear and stress responses are preferentially affected during T. gondii infection. Studies aiming at an in-depth dissection of underlying molecular mechanisms occurring at the host and parasite levels will be discussed in this review. Addressing this reminiscent topic in the light of recent technical progress and new discoveries regarding fear response, olfaction and neuromodulator mechanisms could contribute to a better understanding of this complex host–parasite interaction.

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