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Spatially and genetically distinct African trypanosome virulence variants defined by host interferon-g response

Infectious Diseases Society of America
Publication Date
  • Qr355 Virology
  • Biology
  • Medicine


We describe 2 spatially distinct foci of human African trypansomiasis in eastern Uganda. The Tororo and Soroti foci of Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense infection were genetically distinct as characterized by 6 microsatellite and 1 minisatellite polymorphic markers and were characterized by differences in disease progression and host-immune response. In particular, infections with the Tororo genotype exhibited an increased frequency of progression to and severity of the meningoencephalitic stage and higher plasma interferon (IFN)–γ concentration, compared with those with the Soroti genotype. We propose that the magnitude of the systemic IFN-γ response determines the time at which infected individuals develop central nervous system infection and that this is consistent with the recently described role of IFN-γ in facilitating blood-brain barrier transmigration of trypanosomes in an experimental model of infection. The identification of trypanosome isolates with differing disease progression phenotypes provides the first field-based genetic evidence for virulence variants in T. brucei rhodesiense.

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