Abstract

Until now, there has been neither an agreed-upon experimental model nor descriptors of the clinical symptoms that occur over the course of acute murine infection. The aim of this work is to use noninvasive methods to evaluate clinical signs in Swiss Webster mice that were experimentally infected with the Y strain of Trypanosoma cruzi during acute phase (Inf group). Infected mice showed evident clinical changes beginning in the second week of infection (wpi) when compared to the noninfected group (NI): (1) animals in hunched postures, closed eyes, lowered ears, peeling skin, increased piloerection, prostration, and social isolation; (2) significant decrease in body weight (Inf: 26.2 ± 2.6 g vs. NI: 34.2 ± 2.5 g) and in chow (1.5 ± 0.3 vs. 6.3 ± 0.5 mg) and water (2.4 ± 0.5 vs. 5.8 ± 0.7 ml) intake; (3) significant decrease of spontaneous activity as locomotor parameters: distance (0.64 ± 0.06 vs. 1.8 ± 0.13 m), velocity (1.9 ± 0.3 vs. 6.7 ± 1.5 cm/sec), and exploratory behavior by frequency (1.0 ± 0.5 vs. 5.7 ± 1.0 events) and duration (1.4 ± 0.3 vs. 5.1 ± 0.5 sec in central arena region); (4) significant increase in the PR (41.7 ± 8.7 vs. 27.6 ± 1.9 msec) and QT intervals (39.7 ± 2.0 vs. 27.5 ± 4.0 msec), and a decreased cardiac frequency (505 ± 52.8 vs. 774 ± 17.8 msec), showing a marked sinus bradycardia and an atrioventricular block. At 3 and 4 wpi, the surviving animals showed a tendency of recovery in body weight, food intake, locomotor activity, and exploratory interest. Through the use of noninvasive parameters, we were able to monitor the severity of the infection in individuals prior to death. Our perspective is the application of noninvasive methods to describe clinical signs over the course of acute infection complementing the preclinical evaluation of new agents, alone or in combination with benznidazole.

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