Toxoplasma gondii antibody titers and history of suicide attempts in patients with recurrent mood disorders

J Nerv Ment Dis. 2009 Dec;197(12):905-8. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3181c29a23.


Toxoplasma gondii (T.gondii) is an obligate intracellular protozoan parasite infecting one-third of the world population, residing relatively silently in the brain of the immunocompetent host. We hypothesized that T.gondii seropositivity and serointensity are associated with having a history of attempting suicide and, in those attempting suicide, a greater number of attempts. T.gondii seropositivity and antibody titers were compared between (a) patients with recurrent mood disorders with history of suicide attempt (99 individuals) versus (b) patients with recurrent mood disorders without history of suicide attempt (119 individuals), and (c) healthy controls (39 individuals). Diagnosis was made using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV. Statistical methods included chi square, analysis of variance, and linear and logistic regression analyses. Suicide attempters had higher T.gondii antibody titers than nonsuicide attempters (p = 0.004). The logistic regression analysis revealed a predictive association between titers of anti- T.gondii antibodies and history of suicide attempt with OR = 1.55 (1.14-2.12), p = 0.006. No significant relationship was found between T.gondii seropositivity and suicide attempt status, number of prior suicide attempts, and recurrent mood disorder diagnosis. Although preliminary and bearing replication, this is the first report, to our knowledge, of an association between attempting suicide and T. gondii.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Protozoan / blood*
  • Bipolar Disorder / parasitology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / parasitology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mood Disorders / parasitology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Suicide, Attempted*
  • Toxoplasma / immunology
  • Toxoplasmosis, Cerebral / immunology
  • Toxoplasmosis, Cerebral / psychology*


  • Antibodies, Protozoan