Latent Toxoplasma Infection Occurs More Frequently in Schizophrenia

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Latent toxoplasma infection is 3 times more frequent in patients with schizophrenia than in the general population.
Latent toxoplasma infection is 3 times more frequent in patients with schizophrenia than in the general population.

Latent Toxoplasma infection is more frequent and associated with specific symptoms, including chronic low-grade peripheral inflammation, in individuals with schizophrenia, according to a study published in Schizophrenia Research.

The study cohort included 250 individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia recruited from the FondaMental Expert Center Cohort between 2015 and 2017. Participants were further defined as receiving Treatments with Anti-Toxoplasmic Activity or not. Latent Toxoplasma infection was defined by the ratio of IgG antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii in the blood (T gondii IgG ratio ≥0.8). Chronic peripheral inflammation was identified by a high-sensitivity C reactive protein test measuring ≥3 mg/L of C reactive protein in the blood. The entire study population participated in a comprehensive 2-day battery of tests that evaluated clinical and neuropsychological profiles in order to determine association between symptomatology, cognition, peripheral inflammation, and latent Toxoplasma infection.

Of the 250 study participants, 184 had latent Toxoplasma infection. Study investigators reported a significant association between the presence of latent Toxoplasma infection and higher symptomatology with 2 specific symptoms: alogia and chronic low-grade peripheral inflammation. Demographic characteristics, age of onset, and the presence of cognitive deficits or suicidal behaviors were not significantly associated with latent Toxoplasma infection in the present sample of subjects with schizophrenia. Treatments with Anti-Toxoplasmic Activity were shown to effectively reduce depressive symptoms and chronic low-grade inflammation, presenting a new potential treatment strategy for toxopositive individuals with schizophrenia.

This study suggests latent Toxoplasma infection more frequently affects individuals with schizophrenia than the general population. Study investigators also suggest that latent Toxoplasma infection is potentially associated with the cerebral underpinnings of schizophrenia; specifically, T gondii's effect on different biochemical pathways is associated with schizophrenia onset. Treatments with Anti-Toxoplasmic Activity may benefit such individuals by reducing low-grade peripheral inflammation and diminishing depressive symptoms.

Reference

Fond G, Boyer L, Schürhoff F, Berna F, et al. Latent toxoplasma infection in real-world schizophrenia: results from national FACE-SZ cohort [published online May 27, 2018]. Schizophr Res. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2018.05.007

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