Toxoplasma gondii and Schizophrenia

Article English OPEN
Torrey, E. Fuller ; Yolken, Robert H. (2003)
  • Publisher: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Journal: Emerging Infectious Diseases, volume 9, issue 11, pages 1,375-1,380 (issn: 1080-6040, eissn: 1080-6059)
  • Related identifiers: pmc: PMC3035534, doi: 10.1186/1744-859X-5-S1-S169, doi: 10.3201/eid0911.030143
  • Subject: Psychiatry | Synopsis | RC435-571
    mesheuropmc: behavioral disciplines and activities | parasitic diseases | mental disorders

Recent epidemiologic studies indicate that infectious agents may contribute to some cases of schizophrenia. In animals, infection with Toxoplasma gondii can alter behavior and neurotransmitter function. In humans, acute infection with T. gondii can produce psychotic symptoms similar to those displayed by persons with schizophrenia. Since 1953, a total of 19 studies of T. gondii antibodies in persons with schizophrenia and other severe psychiatric disorders and in controls have been reported; 18 reported a higher percentage of antibodies in the affected persons; in 11 studies the difference was statistically significant. Two other studies found that exposure to cats in childhood was a risk factor for the development of schizophrenia. Some medications used to treat schizophrenia inhibit the replication of T. gondii in cell culture. Establishing the role of T. gondii in the etiopathogenesis of schizophrenia might lead to new medications for its prevention and treatment.
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