OBJECTIVE To evaluate whether anti-inflammatory doses of cyclosporine activate Toxoplasma gondii in chronically infected cats or potentiate infection in cats exposed for the first time.
ANIMALS 30 T gondii–negative cats.
PROCEDURES Cats were assigned to 1 of 3 groups (10 cats/group). Group 1 (control) cats were administered a placebo for 126 days; group 2 cats were administered a placebo for 84 days, followed by cyclosporine at 7.5 mg/kg/d, PO, for 42 days; and group 3 cats were administered cyclosporine at 7.5 mg/kg/d, PO, for 126 days. Cats were orally inoculated with T gondii on day 42. Results for fecal flotations, PCR assays, and histologic examinations and IgM and IgG titers were analyzed. Cyclosporine concentrations were measured on selected days.
RESULTS All cats were infected by T gondii and developed signs of self-limiting gastrointestinal tract infection. Group 3 had the highest incidence and severity of CNS and pulmonary histopathologic findings typical of toxoplasmosis. One cat in group 3 died of systemic toxoplasmosis; that cat had a cyclosporine concentration of 1,690 ng/mL. Group 2 cats infected with T gondii before cyclosporine administration did not have repeated oocyst shedding. Group 3 cats shed fewer oocysts for a shorter time than did control cats of group 1.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Oral administration of cyclosporine in accordance with the protocol for this study did not potentiate the enteroepithelial phase of T gondii infection. Cats with high cyclosporine blood concentrations at the time of primary T gondii infection may be at risk of developing systemic toxoplasmosis.