Studied Veterinary Medicine at the Complutense University of Madrid (1986) and obtained his PhD "cum laude" in Veterinary Sciences in 1991. His pre and postdoctoral experience includes stays at the Faculty of Medicine at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and the Departments of Parasitology and Pathology of the Moredun Research Institute in Edinburgh (UK). At present, he is Full Professor at the Animal Health Department of the Veterinary Faculty of Madrid and Director of the SALUVET research group, including more than 25 scientists in the area of Animal Health. Ortega’s main scientific interests are the pathogenesis and immunoprophylaxis of cattle protozoan reproductive diseases.
Saluvet Group, Animal Health Department, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences Faculty, Complutense University of Madrid, Spain.
Ortega-Mora L.M., ?lvarez-Garc?a G, Collantes-Fern?ndez E, G?mez-Bautista M, Horcajo P, Regidor-Cerrillo J.
Neospora caninum is an apicomplexan cyst-forming protozoan parasite phylogenetically closely related to Toxoplasma gondii. It has a heteroxenous life cycle where definitive hosts (dog, coyote dingo and gray wolf) can shed unsporulated oocysts in their feces and the intermediate host, mainly cattle, harbors the asexual tachyzoite and bradyzoite parasite stages in their tissues. N. caninum transmission in cattle occurs through ingestion of sporulated oocysts and transplacental infection from the dam to the foetus during gestation. Transplacental transmission takes place as a consequence of an oocyst-derived primo-infection (exogenous transplacental transmission; ExTT) or after recrudescence of a persistent infection acquired in utero (endogenous transplacental transmission; EnTT). N. caninum infection may lead to abortion, stillborn or congenitally infected calves. It is unclear which host and parasite dependant factors play a major role in the outcome of the infection. N. caninum shares with T. gondii a world-wide distribution, ability to infect different intermediate hosts and capacity for genetic recombination in a definitive host that may give rise to genetic and biological diversity. So far, the molecular basis of the disease remains to be elucidated and studies on parasite variability and population structure are limited. Predominance of vertical transmission in cattle suggests the clonal propagation of this parasite and initial studies based on microsatellite sequences have shown evidence the geographic sub-structuring and predominant clonal propagation in some areas. In addition, studies on host-parasite interactions in in vitro culture systems revealed marked differences in lytic cycle kinetics, mechanisms to breach biological barriers for tachyzoite dissemination and stage conversion that can explain variability in vivo. Such variability has already been confirmed in mouse and bovine experimental models showing marked differences in pathogenicity, infection dynamics, tissue parasite distribution and induction of immune response. New approaches based on high-throughput sequencing methods and genetic manipulation tools together with well-defined ruminant models will be the key in unraveling the molecular basis of variability in N. caninum and its effect on cattle infection.
Acknowledgements: This research is presently funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (AGL2013-44694-R).