Here, we analyzed histological findings and parasite burden in chronic Neospora caninum infection in BALB/c and ICR mice and studied the correlation between lesion severity and parasite load in brain. To obtain a better understanding of the infection, we examined the influence of various host–pathogen factors. Groups of outbred (ICR) and inbred (BALB/c) mice were inoculated using several NC-1 parasite doses (4 × 105, 106, and 5 × 106 tachyzoites), inoculation routes (intraperitoneal and subcutaneous), and 3 immunosuppressive treatments (methylprednisolone, cyclophosphamide, and vinblastine). Lesion severity was analyzed in the liver, lung, heart, and brain tissues, and parasite load was measured by real-time polymerase chain reaction in brain tissue. The results indicated more severe cerebral lesions and higher brain parasite burdens in inbred than in outbred mice. Hepatic tissue was the primary lesion site in immunosuppressed ICR mice. We also observed that increased inoculum size was reflected in greater lesion severity and a higher cerebral parasite load. No difference was observed with respect to inoculation route. The study also showed an association between brain parasite burden and severity of cerebral lesions in BALB/c mice.

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