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Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz

Print version ISSN 0074-0276On-line version ISSN 1678-8060

Mem. Inst. Oswaldo Cruz vol.86 no.2 Rio de Janeiro Apr./June 1991 

Central nervous system involvement in experimental trypanosomiasis cruzi

José Eymard Homem Pittella1 

Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Faculdade de Medicina, Departamento de Anatomia Patológica. Laboratório de Neuropatologia, Belo Horizonte, Brasil


A review of the available literature on central nervous system involvement in experimental trypanosomiasis cruzi is undertaken. From a critical analysis of 26 works on experimental infections with Trypanosoma cruzi (23 on the acute phase, 2 on the chronic phase, and one describing sequentially both phases), all supported by neuropathologic studies, it can be concluded that: 1) central nervous system involvement during the acute phase, in the form of encephalitis in multiple foci, with variable intensity of the parasitism and inflamatory changes, is frequent and well documented; 2) in animals with more severe central nervous system involvement death occurs as a result of the brain lesions or acute chagasic myocarditis, the latter being always present; 3) in animals with more discrete brain involviment death during the acute phase is due to complications not related to the nervous system, among which congestive heart failure second to acute chagasic myocarditis, a condition that is always present, regardless of whether or not the central nervous system is infected; 4) it is possible that in surviving animals that had mild encephalitis the inflammatory changes from the acute phase usually regress as the infection progress to the chronic phase.

Key words: trypanosomiasis cruzi; chagasic encephalitis; brain


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