Now in our 13th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Search the archive of over 4000 images

Picking the Brain

Insight into which neurons of the brain the parasite Toxoplasma gondii affects and how it causes damage

01 September 2021

Picking the Brain

Responsible for chronic infections in roughly a third of the world’s population, Toxoplasma gondii parasites can find a home inside a range of tissues, from muscle cells to neurons, and cause serious disease in patients with weakened immune systems. In the brain, researchers are investigating how Toxoplasma affects neuron function, using fluorescent proteins to tag mouse neurons injected with T. gondii proteins (Toxoplasma-injected neurons, or TINs, pictured in green). TINs mainly occurred in two brain areas: the outer layer, or cortex, and the striatum. Within the striatum, recordings of electrical activity from individual neurons revealed that TINs had highly abnormal electrical properties, while nearby neurons were only slightly affected. The number of TINs also drastically decreased over several weeks, suggesting that these unusual patterns were symptomatic of unhealthy, dying neurons. Continuing to study neuronal responses to Toxoplasma should help better understand how chronic infections can persist in the brain.

Written by Emmanuelle Briolat

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

Follow on Tumblr

Follow on Instagram

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at with translations by the University of Valencia.