Cytotoxic-activated macrophages control Toxoplasma gondii growth by producing nitric oxide (NO). However, the parasite can partially inhibit NO production. NO is generated from arginine within the polyamine biosynthetic pathway. Two enzymes of this pathway are ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) and arginine decarboxylase (ADC). The aim of the present work was to investigate whether T. gondii is able to modulate polyamine metabolism in macrophages. Toxoplasma gondii infection did not affect basal ODC or ADC activity. However, lipopolysaccharide induced an increase in ODC activity. Polyamine-treated macrophages exhibited a T. gondii–infection index similar to controls but a higher adhesion index; the parasite did not grow in methyl-ornithine (ODC inhibitor)–treated macrophages. The parasites were able to take up putrescine with a Km of 0.92 μM, indicating the presence of a high-affinity putrescine-transporter system. Putrescine-treated T. gondii actively penetrated macrophages and Vero cells. However, NO production and lysosomal parasitophorous vacuole fusion were not inhibited. Considered together, these results demonstrate that T. gondii requires polyamines for multiplication. However, as opposed to Trypanosoma cruzi and because of a relatively high-affinity putrescine-transporter system in the parasite, constitutive macrophage levels of putrescine seem sufficient to support T. gondii survival and multiplication.

You do not currently have access to this content.