As already reported, the mountain hare is much more susceptible than the domestic rabbit to oral inoculation with Toxoplasma gondii, as judged by pathological changes and dissemination of parasites within the body. In the present paper, further interspecies variations are reported. Concentrations of the acute phase reactant haptoglobin were raised in hares but not in rabbits one week post-infection (pi), probably reflecting the severe tissue damage present. No difference in the early humoral immune response of hares and rabbits was found, both species producing IgM and IgG antibodies to T. gondii one week pi. Lymphocyte stimulation tests performed before and one week after inoculation showed a high proliferative response to the parasite in blood cell cultures from rabbits but not hares. The fatal outcome of T. gondii infection in the hares is probably due, at least in part, to the lack of cellular response.
Journal of Comparative Pathology, 1997, Vol 117, Issue 4, p. 361-369