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Friendly Gut Bacteria Lend A Hand To Fight Infection, Study Suggests

Immunology researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that bacteria present in the human gut help initiate the body's defense mechanisms against Toxoplasma gondii, the parasite responsible for toxoplasmosis.

Toxoplasmosis is generally a mild infection, but it can have serious and potentially fatal effects in pregnant women, their fetuses and others with weakened immune systems.

In mice, T gondii directly activates a specific immune protein in the host, called toll-like receptor 11 (TLR-11), which helps control the animals' immune response to the parasite. Humans, however, don't have an active form of this receptor. Exactly how the body senses T gondii has remained unclear because the parasite doesn't activate any of the functioning toll-like receptors that humans do possess.
 
 

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