Congenital Chagas disease, caused by Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi), is partially responsible for the increasing globalization of Chagas disease despite its low transmission. During congenital transmission, the parasite reaches the fetus by crossing the placental barrier. However, the success or impairment of congenital transmission of the parasite is the product of a complex interaction between the parasite, the maternal and fetus/newborn immune responses and placental factors. There is other evidence apart from the low congenital transmission rates, which suggests the presence of defense mechanisms against T. cruzi. Thus, the typical amastigote nests (intracellular parasites) cannot be observed in placentas from mothers with chronic Chagas disease nor in human placental chorionic villi explants infected in vitro with the parasite. In the latter, only a few parasite antigens and DNA are identified. Accordingly, other infections of the placenta are not commonly observed. All these evidences suggest that the placenta can mount defense mechanisms against T. cruzi.
The immune response against Trypanosoma cruzi in the human placenta
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Roberto Docampo, Ulrike Kemmerling, Christian Castillo, Ana Liempi, Lisvaneth Medina, Ileana Carrillo, Daniel Droguett, Juan D. Maya, Norbel Galanti; The immune response against Trypanosoma cruzi in the human placenta. Emerg Top Life Sci 22 December 2017; 1 (6): 573–577. doi: https://doi.org/10.1042/ETLS20170115
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