The importance of Toxoplasma gondii infection in diseases presenting with headaches. Headaches and aseptic meningitis may be manifestations of the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction
International Journal of Neuroscience 2009; 119: 2144-2182.
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Worldwide, approximately 2 billion people are chronically infected with T. gondii with largely unknown consequences. This review presents clinical symptoms, differential diagnosis, triggering factors, treatment, and pathomechanisms responsible for idiopathic intracranial hypertension, pseudotumor cerebri, and aseptic meningitis. Literature cited in this work illustrates that immune state and other biologic mediator imbalances due to various endogenous and exogenous triggering factors may markedly affect latent central nervous system T. gondii infection/inflammation intensity, and cause reactivation of cerebral toxoplasmosis (CT). Irregularities in pro- and anti-inflammatory processes may markedly disturb the host and/or T. gondii defense mechanisms important for immune control of the parasite thereby manifesting as a wide range of neurologic symptoms and signs observed in some patients with migraine, epilepsy, celiac disease, Henoch-Schonlein purpura, and other brain disorders. This is consistent with reactivation of CT in mice after treatment with dexamethasone associated with depression of type T(H)1 immune response, and development of CT after administration of etanercept or other bioproducts. It seems that various types of headaches, epilepsy, aseptic meningitis, systemic adverse reactions to drugs or other substances represent the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction due to apoptosis of T. gondii tachyzoites. Also development of some brain tumors, such as ependymoma and glioma may be associated with a chronic course of CT. Thus, all these patients should be tested for T. gondii infection.