Chagas disease results from infection with the trypanosomatid parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. Progress
in developing new drugs has been hampered by the long term and complex nature of the condition and by our
limited understanding of parasite biology. Technical difficulties in assessing the parasite burden during the
chronic stage of infection have also proven to be a particular challenge. In this context, the development of noninvasive,
highly sensitive bioluminescence imaging procedures based on parasites that express a red-shifted luciferase
has greatly enhanced our ability to monitor infections in experimental models. Applications of this
methodology have led to new insights into tissue tropism and infection dynamics and have been a major driver
in drug development. The system has been further modified by the generation of parasite reporter lines that express
bioluminescent:fluorescent fusion proteins, an advancement that has allowed chronic infections in mice to
be examined at a cellular level. By exploiting bioluminescence, to identify the rare sites of tissue infection, and
fluorescence to detect T. cruzi at the level of individual host cells in histological sections, it has been possible to
investigate the replication and differentiation status of parasites in vivo and to examine the cellular environment
of infection foci. In combination, these data provide a framework for the detailed dissection of disease pathogenesis
and drug activity.
Keywords: Trypanosoma cruzi, in vivo imaging, bioluminescence, fluorescence, murine models, disease pathogenesis.
Rights & PermissionsPrintExport