Role of Natural Killer Cells in Adaptive Immunity to Toxoplasma gondii

Krempels, Ryan
Toxoplasma gondii is a very prevalent parasite that the CDC estimates infects up to 60% of Americans. Most of these people do not know they are infected because, with a normally functioning immune system, there are rarely symptoms. However in immunocompromised individuals such as; HIV and AIDS patients, pregnant women, and people with certain cancers, T. gondii can cause toxoplasmic encephalitis. One of the body's first lines of defense against infectious diseases are Natural Killer (NK) cells. These cells provide an innate immune response to invading pathogens, however, there is evidence that they also play a role in memory immunity. Our project has been focused on exploring the role that NK cells play in the adaptive response to T. gondii. Our results have shown that the presence of NK cells provides significantly improved survival after a second challenge from T. gondii.
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