Date of Award

8-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Biomedical Engineering

Major Professor

Xiaopeng Zhao

Committee Members

MIchael A. Gilchrist, Chunlei Su, William R. Hamel

Abstract

Toxoplasma gondii is a potentially deadly parasite that uses a very unique way of manipulating the cell and immune systems. To investigate the mechanics of how the parasite spreads within hosts, several interwoven topics related to the study of within-host dynamics of Toxoplasma gondii are presented here. Understanding the complicated methods of how the parasite grows, dies, invades, replicates, and evades the host immune response is the critical aim of this independent research. Understanding the processes of acute and chronic infection are studied independently, followed by modeling the two processes in the same model. Finally, the dynamic models are simulated within a 3D mesh representation of a mouse brain to visualize the infection spreading during the acute and chronic phase. The results presented shed light onto the effects of the immune response, cyst volume growth, and the dependence of multiple stages in the dissemination of the parasite within a host.

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