Pregnant mice infected with Toxoplasma by the vaginal route have been found to transmit toxoplasmosis to the placentas and fetuses in utero. The microorganism entered the blood stream of the mother from primary foci of infection in the vaginal wall and produced disseminated lesions in the labyrinth of the allantoic placenta at the same time as other peripheral maternal tissues were involved. Placental lesions were observed in mice infected with Toxoplasma by vagina between the 3rd and the 9th day of pregnancy. They consisted of microscopic foci of degeneration, without inflammation, in the syncytial trophoblast, and parasites undergoing multiplication were readily identified in them. Here Toxoplasma gained access to the fetal circulation. Following the vaginal instillation of Toxoplasma on the 8th day of pregnancy, subinoculation of test animals revealed the parasites in the maternal peripheral and placental blood on the 13th day and later, while the first histopathologic changes in the placenta were found on the 17th day. Toxoplasma could be demonstrated in suspensions of fetal tissues on and after the 17th day by the injection of normal test animals. However, no lesions of toxoplasmosis, or Toxoplasma, were found in histologic sections of fetuses 11 to 21 days old removed at autopsy from vaginally infected mothers. It is concluded that before birth the parasites were confined to the fetal blood. The experiments provide the first direct histological demonstration of placental toxoplasmosis. The possible bearing of the experimental disease on human placental and fetal toxoplasmosis is briefly considered. It is probable that a maternal parasitemia during the latter part of pregnancy, whatever the portal of entry may be, is an essential factor in the pathogenesis of human congenital toxoplasmosis and that this occurs shortly after exposure to Toxoplasma rather than in a later chronic stage of the infection. The suggestion is offered that some instances of spontaneous abortion or fetal death in man, as in the mouse, may be due to inapparent toxoplasmosis.

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