Is Toxoplasma Gondii Infection Related to Brain and Behavior Impairments in Humans? Evidence from a Population-Representative Birth Cohort.

Published

Journal Article

BACKGROUND:Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is a protozoan parasite present in around a third of the human population. Infected individuals are commonly asymptomatic, though recent reports have suggested that infection might influence aspects of the host's behavior. In particular, Toxoplasma infection has been linked to schizophrenia, suicide attempt, differences in aspects of personality and poorer neurocognitive performance. However, these studies are often conducted in clinical samples or convenience samples. METHODS/RESULTS:In a population-representative birth-cohort of individuals tested for presence of antibodies to T. gondii (N = 837) we investigated the association between infection and four facets of human behavior: neuropsychiatric disorder (schizophrenia and major depression), poor impulse control (suicidal behavior and criminality), personality, and neurocognitive performance. Suicide attempt was marginally more frequent among individuals with T. gondii seropositivity (p = .06). Seropositive individuals also performed worse on one out of 14 measures of neuropsychological function. CONCLUSION:On the whole, there was little evidence that T. gondii was related to increased risk of psychiatric disorder, poor impulse control, personality aberrations or neurocognitive impairment.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Sugden, K; Moffitt, TE; Pinto, L; Poulton, R; Williams, BS; Caspi, A

Published Date

  • January 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 11 / 2

Start / End Page

  • e0148435 -

PubMed ID

  • 26886853

Pubmed Central ID

  • 26886853

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1932-6203

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1932-6203

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1371/journal.pone.0148435

Language

  • eng