In vitro assay to determine inactivation of Toxoplasma gondii in meat samples

Marieke Opsteegh, Tryntsje Cuperus, Chesley van Buuren, Cecile Dam-Deisz, Conny van Solt-Smits, Bavo Verhaegen, Maike Joeres, Gereon Schares, Břetislav Koudela, Frans Egberts, Theo Verkleij, Joke van der Giessen, Henk J. Wisselink*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Consumption of raw and undercooked meat is considered as an important source of Toxoplasma gondii infections. However, most non-heated meat products contain salt and additives, which affect T. gondii viability. It was our aim to develop an in vitro method to substitute the mouse bioassay for determining the effect of salting on T. gondii viability. Two sheep were experimentally infected by oral inoculation with 6.5×104 oocysts. Grinded meat samples of 50 g were prepared from heart, diaphragm, and four meat cuts. Also, pooled meat
samples were either kept untreated (positive control), frozen (negative control) or
supplemented with 0.6%, 0.9%, 1.2% or 2.7% NaCl. All samples were digested in pepsin-HCl solution, and digests were inoculated in duplicate onto monolayers of RK13 (a rabbit kidney cell line). Cells were maintained for up to four weeks and parasite growth was monitored by assessing Cq-values using the T. gondii qPCR on cell culture supernatant in intervals of one week and ΔCq-values determined. Additionally, 500 µL of each digest from the individual meat cuts, heart and diaphragm were inoculated in duplicate in IFNγ KO mice. Both sheep developed an antibody response and tissue samples contained similar concentrations of T.
gondii DNA. From all untreated meat samples positive ΔCq-values were obtained in the in vitro assay, indicating presence and multiplication of viable parasites.
This was in line with the mouse bioassay, with the exception of a negative mouse bioassay on one heart sample. Samples supplemented with 0.6%-1.2% NaCl showed positive ΔCq-values over time. The frozen sample and the sample supplemented with 2.7% NaCl remained qPCR positive but with high Cq-values
, which indicated no growth. In conclusion, the in vitro method has successfully been used to detect viable T. gondii in tissues of experimentally infected sheep,
and a clear difference in T. gondii viability was observed between the samples supplemented with 2.7% NaCl and those with 1.2% NaCl or less.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110643
JournalInternational Journal of Food Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2024


Dive into the research topics of 'In vitro assay to determine inactivation of Toxoplasma gondii in meat samples'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this