Cerebral toxocariasis: Silent progression to neurodegenerative disorders?

Chia Kwung Fan, Celia V. Holland, Karen Loxton, Ursula Barghouth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Citations (Scopus)


Toxocara canis and T. cati are highly prevalent nematode infections of the intestines of dogs and cats. In paratenic hosts, larvae do not mature in the intestine but instead migrate through the somatic tissues and organs of the body. The presence of these migrating larvae can contribute to pathology. Toxocara larvae can invade the brains of humans, and while case descriptions of cerebral toxocariasis are historically rare, improved diagnosis and greater awareness have contributed to increased detection. Despite this, cerebral or neurological toxocariasis (NT) remains a poorly understood phenomenon. Furthermore, our understanding of cognitive deficits due to toxocariasis in human populations remains particularly deficient. Recent data describe an enhanced expression of biomarkers associated with brain injury, such as GFAP, AβPP, transforming growth factor β1 (TGF-β1), NF-L, S100B, tTG, and p-tau, in mice receiving even low doses of Toxocara ova. Finally, this review outlines a hypothesis to explore the relationship between the presence of T. canis larvae in the brain and the progression of Alzheimer's disease (AD) due to enhanced AD-associated neurodegenerative biomarker expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)663-686
Number of pages24
JournalClinical Microbiology Reviews
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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