Oral infection with Toxoplasma gondii results in dysbiosis and enteritis, both of which revert to normal during chronic infection. However, whether infection leaves a lasting impact on mucosal responses remains uncertain. Here we examined the effect of the chemical irritant dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) on intestinal damage and wound healing in chronically infected mice. Our findings indicate that prior infection with T. gondii exacerbates damage to the colon caused by DSS and impairs wound healing by suppressing stem cell regeneration of the epithelium. Enhanced tissue damage was attributable to inflammatory monocytes that emerge preactivated from bone marrow, migrate to the intestine, and release inflammatory mediators, including nitric oxide. Tissue damage was reversed by neutralization of inflammatory monocytes or nitric oxide, revealing a causal mechanism for tissue damage. Our findings suggest that chronic infection with T. gondii enhances monocyte activation to increase inflammation associated with a secondary environmental insult.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2106730118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number36
StatePublished - Sep 7 2021


  • Disbiosis
  • Inflammation
  • Monocytes
  • Nitric oxide
  • Toxoplasmosis


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