We are interested in the disease ecology of Sarcocystis species that infect birds of prey as definitive and intermediate hosts. The present study was done to test our hypothesis that a laboratory model can be developed for sarcocystis infection in mammals using gamma interferon gene knockout (KO) mice as a source of Sarcocystis strixi bradyzoites and mammalian cell cultures as a source of sporulated S. strixi oocysts. Sporocysts of S. strixi from a naturally infected barred owl (Strix varia) were fed to KO mice to produce sarcocysts, and the enclosed bradyzoites were obtained by acid-pepsin digestion of abdominal and thigh muscles. Bradyzoites, metrocytes, and an unusual spherical stage were seen in digest before the inoculation of host cells. The spherical stages stained dark with Giemsa stain, but no nucleus was observed, and they were seen free and associated with the concave portion of some bradyzoites. Examination of infected cell cultures demonstrated that macrogamonts and microgamonts were present at 24 hr post-inoculation. Since sporulated oocysts were not observed, we had to reject our current hypothesis.

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