It has been demonstrated that the acute phase of Trypanosoma cruzi
infection promotes several changes in the oral glands. The present study examined whether T. cruzi
modulates the expression of host cell apoptotic or mitotic pathway genes. Rats were infected with T. cruzi
then sacrificed after 18, 32, 64 or 97 days, after which the submandibular glands were analyzed by immunohistochemistry. Immunohistochemical analyses using an anti-bromodeoxyuridine antibody showed that, during acute T. cruzi
infection, DNA synthesizing cells in rat submandibular glands were lower than in non-infected animals (p < 0.05). However, after 64 days of infection (chronic phase), the number of immunolabeled cells are similar in both groups. However, immunohistochemical analysis of Fas and Bcl-2 expression did not find any difference between infected and non-infected animals in both the acute and chronic stages. These findings suggest that the delay in ductal maturation observed at the acute phase of Chagas disease is correlated with lower expression of DNA synthesis genes, but not apoptotic genes.