Infection by the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii
is widely prevalent in humans and animals. To prevent
human infection, all meat should be well cooked before consumption, since the parasite is present in skeletal
muscle. In this context, the use of skeletal muscle cells (SkMCs) as a cellular model opens up new approaches to
investigate T. gondii
-host cell interactions. Immunofluorescent detection of proteins that are stage-specific for bradyzoites
indicated that complete cystogenesis of T. gondii
in in vitro cultures of SkMCs occurs after 96 h of infection.
Ultrastructural analysis showed that, after 48 h of interaction, there were alterations on the parasitophorous vacuole
membrane, including greater thickness and increased electron density at the inner face of the membrane. The
present study demonstrates the potential use of primary cultures of SkMCs to evaluate different molecular aspects
of T. gondii
invasion and cystogenesis and presents a promising in vitro model for the screening of drug activities
toward tissue cysts and bradyzoites.