Toxoplasma gondii infection and schizophrenia a case control study in a low Toxoplasma seroprevalence Mexican population.

Parasitol Int. 2011 Jun;60(2):151-5. Epub  2011 Feb 1.


Faculty of Medicine, Juárez University of Durango State, Avenida Universidad S/N esquina Fanny Anitua, 34000 Durango, Dgo, Mexico.


There are conflicting reports concerning the association of Toxoplasma gondii infection and schizophrenia in humans. Therefore, we determined such association in a Mexican population of Mestizo ethnicity. Through a case-control study design, 50 schizophrenic patients and 150 control subjects matched by gender, age, residence place, and ethnicity were examined with enzyme-linked immunoassays for the presence and levels of T. gondii IgG antibodies and for the presence of T. gondii IgM antibodies. Schizophrenic patients attended a public psychiatric hospital in Durango City, Mexico, and the control group consisted of individuals of the general population of the same city. Socio-demographic, clinical and behavioral characteristics from the study subjects were also obtained. Both the seroprevalence and the level of T.gondii IgG antibodies were higher in schizophrenic patients (10/50; 20%) than in control subjects (8/150; 5.3%) (OR=4.44; 95% CI: 1.49-13.37; P=0.003). The IgG T. gondii levels higher than 150 IU/ml were more frequently observed in patients than in controls (10% versus 2%, respectively; P=0.02). One (50%) of the two patients with recently diagnosed schizophrenia and none of the controls had T. gondii IgM antibodies (P=0.01). T. gondii seropositivity was significantly higher in patients with a history of cleaning cat excrement (P=0.005), and suffering from simple schizophrenia (ICD-10 classification: F20.6) (P=0.03) than patients without these characteristics. Toxoplasma seroprevalence was also significantly higher in patients with simple schizophrenia (F20.6) than in those with paranoid schizophrenia (F20.0) (P=0.02). This study provides elements to clarify the controversial information on the association of T. gondii infection and schizophrenia.

Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.


Serum antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii and Herpesvidae family viruses in individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder: a case-control study.

Ethiop Med J. 2011 Jul;49(3):211-20.


Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, P.O. Box 9086.



Recent etiological studies for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have focused on the protozoan Toxoplasma gondii and Herpesvirdae family viruses.


To determine the magnitude of T. gondii, cytomegalovirus (CMV), herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infection in individuals with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and healthy controls by using serologic diagnostic methods.


Serologic diagnostic method was used to determine the prevalence and level of antibodies to T gondii, CMV HSV-1 and HSV-2 in individuals with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and unaffected controls recruited from Butajira, Ethiopia. The study was conducted from March to May 2009. A total of 495 serum samples were analysed for the presence and level of immunoglobulin G (IgG) to T. gondii, CMV HSV-1, and HSV-2.


The seroprevalence of T gondii infection was higher in individuals with schizophrenia [adjusted odds ratio = 4.7; 95% CI (1.5, 15.1)] and bipolar disorder [adjusted odds ratio = 3.0; 95% CI (1.1, 8.6)] than in unaffected controls. The level of IgG to CMV was also significantly higher in individuals with schizophrenia and bipoar disorder than in unaffected controls. Younger individuals with schizophrenia (< 25 years old) also had a significantly higher level of IgG to CMV than matched unaffected controls.


This study provides additional evidence that infection with 7T gondii and CMV may be associated with some cases of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Additional studies should focus on antibodies to these agents in the sera and CSF of individuals with recent-onset psychosis.

[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Psychitrist E. Fuller Torrey’s public talk about the Preventable Tragedies Database: Dr. T advocates for treatment with medication management but fails to inform the public of the relationship to Infectious Disease and symptoms of Schizophrenia

Posted by Maria Mangicaro

Published on Jun 14, 2012 by

Dr. Torrey talks about how the Preventable Tragedies Database grew from a folder of clippings.

You can find Dr. Torrey’s research on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website under Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Toxoplasma gondii and Schizophrenia

E. Fuller Torrey*  and Robert H. Yolken†
Author affiliations: *Stanley Medical Research Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA; †Johns Hopkins University Medical Center, Baltimore, Maryland, USA


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.

Schizophrenia is a pervasive neuropsychiatric disease of uncertain cause that affects approximately 1% of the adult population in the United States and Europe. An increased occurrence of schizophrenia in family members of affected persons suggests that genetic factors play a role in its etiology, and some candidate predisposing genes have been identified. Environmental factors are also important. Epidemiologic studies, for example, have established that winter-spring birth, urban birth, and perinatal and postnatal infection are all risk factors for the disease developing in later life. These studies have rekindled an interest in the role of infectious agents in schizophrenia, a concept first proposed in 1896 (1). This review focuses on evidence specifically linking infection with Toxoplasma gondii to the etiology of some cases of schizophrenia.

T. gondii is an intracellular parasite in the phylum Apicomplexa. Its life cycle can be completed only in cats and other felids, which are the definitive hosts. However, T. gondii also infects a wide variety of intermediate hosts, including humans. In many mammals, T. gondii is known to be an important cause of abortions and stillbirths and to selectively infect muscle and brain tissue. A variety of neurologic symptoms, including incoordination, tremors, head-shaking, and seizures, have been described in sheep, pigs, cattle, rabbits, and monkeys infected with T. gondii (2).

Humans may become infected by contact with cat feces or by eating undercooked meat. The importance of these modes of transmission may vary in different populations (3). Individual response to Toxoplasma infection is determined by immune status, timing of infection, and the genetic composition of the host and the organism (4).

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