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Antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii and Cognitive Functioning in Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, and Nonpsychiatric Controls

Dickerson, Faith PhD, MPH*; Stallings, Cassie RN, MA*; Origoni, Andrea BA*; Katsafanas, Emily BA*; Schweinfurth, Lucy BA*; Savage, Christina MA*; Khushalani, Sunil MD*; Yolken, Robert MD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: August 2014 - Volume 202 - Issue 8 - p 589–593
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000166
Original Articles

Increased rates of exposure to Toxoplasma gondii have been found in individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but the association between Toxoplasma and cognitive functioning has not previously been examined. We measured IgG and IgM class antibodies to Toxoplasma in 408 nonelderly individuals with schizophrenia, 347 with bipolar disorder, and 352 nonpsychiatric controls. Cognitive functioning was measured with the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status. Multivariate linear and regression analyses showed significant associations between Toxoplasma IgM antibody level and cognitive scores within the control group and the bipolar disorder group but not the schizophrenia group. Within the control group, having an elevated Toxoplasma IgM antibody level, greater than or equal to the 50th and 75th levels of the control group, was associated with significantly elevated odds of a low total cognitive score. Exposure to Toxoplasma may confer risk for lower cognitive functioning in persons without a psychiatric disorder and those with bipolar disorder.

*Stanley Research Program, Sheppard Pratt Health System, Baltimore, MD; and †Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD.

Send reprint requests to Faith Dickerson, PhD, MPH, Stanley Research Program, Sheppard Pratt Health System, 6501 North Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21204. E-mail:

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins