The association between Toxoplasma and the psychosis continuum in a general population setting
Lindgren, M., Torniainen-Holm, M., Harkanen, T., Dickerson, F., Yolken, R. H., Suvisaari, J.
Schizophrenia Research 2018; 193: 329-335
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Toxoplasma gondii infection is associated with increased risk for psychosis. However, the possible association between T. gondii and psychotic-like symptoms in the general adult population is unknown. We investigated whether T. gondii is associated with psychotic-like symptoms and psychosis diagnoses using data from Health 2000, a large cross-sectional health survey of the Finnish general population aged 30 and above. Seropositivity to toxoplasma was defined as a cutoff of 50 IU/ml of IgG antibodies. Lifetime psychotic-like symptoms were identified with section G of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview, Munich version (M-CIDI). Symptoms were considered clinically relevant if they caused distress or help-seeking or there were at least three of them. Lifetime psychotic disorders were screened from the sample and were diagnosed with DSM-IV using SCID-I interview and information from medical records. All data were available for 5906 participants. We adjusted for variables related to T. gondii seropositivity (age, gender, education, region of residence, cat ownership, and C-reactive protein measuring inflammation) in regression models. We found that T. gondii seropositivity was significantly associated with clinically relevant psychotic-like symptoms (OR 1.77, p = 0.001) and with the number of psychotic-like symptoms (IRR = 1.55, p = 0.001). The association between toxoplasma and diagnosed psychotic disorders did not reach statistical significance (OR 1.45 for schizophrenia). In a large sample representing the whole Finnish adult population, we found that serological evidence of toxoplasma infection predicted psychotic-like symptoms, independent of demographic factors and levels of C-reactive protein. Toxoplasma infection may be a risk factor for manifestation of psychotic-like symptoms.