Disclosure: The authors received an honorarium from the Publisher for preparation of this article.
Toxoplasma and schizophrenia
Article first published online: 15 MAY 2009
© 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Special Issue: Parasites as Aetiological Agents in Chronic Disease: Epidemiological Associations and Potential Mechanisms of Pathogenesis
Volume 31, Issue 11, pages 706–715, November 2009
How to Cite
YOLKEN, R. H., DICKERSON, F. B. and FULLER TORREY, E. (2009), Toxoplasma and schizophrenia. Parasite Immunology, 31: 706–715. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3024.2009.01131.x
- Issue published online: 7 OCT 2009
- Article first published online: 15 MAY 2009
- Received: 30 December 2008 Accepted for publication: 15 April 2009
- Toxoplasma gondii;
Research on infectious agents as a possible cause of schizophrenia has become prominent in the past decade. Toxoplasma gondii has emerged as a prime candidate for a variety of reasons; (i) many studies have reported that individuals with schizophrenia, compared to controls, have a higher prevalence of antibodies to T. gondii, (ii) some individuals with adult toxoplasmosis develop psychotic symptoms similar to those of schizophrenia, (iii) epidemiologically, there are many similarities between toxoplasmosis and schizophrenia, (iv) antipsychotic drugs known to be effective in schizophrenia also inhibit some parasites, including T. gondii, (v) Toxoplasma has been shown to induce elevated levels of dopamine in experimentally infected animals (elevated dopamine is commonly seen in individuals with schizophrenia) and (vi) studies have shown that individuals with schizophrenia, compared to controls, have had greater exposure to cats in childhood. A number of questions remain concerning a role for Toxoplasma in the aetiology of schizophrenia, including the roles of strain variation, the timing and source of infection, and the role of host genes in determining disease susceptibility. The establishment of a firm association between Toxoplasma and the aetiology of schizophrenia and related disorders would represent a major breakthrough in the understanding of these disorders and would lead to novel methods for their treatment and prevention.