Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Eells, Jeffrey B.

Committee Member

Varela-Stokes, Andrea S.

Committee Member

Carr, Russell

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Infectious Disease

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Veterinary Medicine


Veterinary Medical Science Program


Toxoplasma gondii infection is common in humans and is a significant risk factor for developing the disease schizophrenia. Genetic risk factors are likely required for the disease of schizophrenia to develop. Nurr1 – heterozygous (+/-) mice and wild-type (+/+) mice were evaluated using immune activation of astrocytes within the prefrontal cortex, dopamine levels within the striatum, and measuring the acoustic startle response reaction time by using prepulse inhibition (PPI). T. gondii infected heterozygous (+/-) mice exhibited increased GFAP expression within the prefrontal cortex. Dopamine levels within the striatum were measured and T. gondii infected wild-type (+/+) mice exhibited increased dopamine levels. The acoustic startle response reaction time was measured using PPI and T. gondii infected mice exhibited slower reaction times when compared to controls. These data demonstrate that the Nurr1 (+/-) genotype predisposes mice to T. gondii-induced alterations in behaviors that involve dopamine neurotransmission and are associated with symptoms of schizophrenia.