Immediate rather than delayed memory impairment in older adults with latent toxoplasmosis

Brain Behav Immun. 2015 Mar;45:36-40. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2014.12.006. Epub 2014 Dec 10.


The neurotropic parasite Toxoplasma gondii infects one third of the world population, but its effect on memory remains ambiguous. To examine a potential relationship of the infection with immediate and delayed memory, a population-based study was conducted in 4485 participants of the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey aged 60years and older. Serum anti-Toxoplasma IgG antibodies were measured by enzyme immune assay and verbal memory was assessed using the Mini-Mental State Examination and the East Boston Memory Test. The prevalence of latent toxoplasmosis was 41%; in one way analysis of variance, anti-Toxoplasma IgG antibody levels significantly differed across tertiles for immediate (P=0.006) but not delayed memory scores (P=0.22). In multinomial logistic regression adjusting for covariates, Toxoplasma seropositivity was associated with lower immediate memory performance (OR: 0.65, 95% CI: 0.44, 0.97 for medium tertile and OR: 0.61, 95% CI: 0.37, 0.98 for highest tertile in reference to the lowest tertile), especially in non-Hispanic Whites (OR: 0.56, 95% CI: 0.36, 0.88 for medium tertile and OR: 0.51, 95% CI: 0.30, 0.87 for highest tertile in reference to the lowest tertile). However, no relationship with delayed memory was observed. In conclusion, latent toxoplasmosis is widespread in older adults and may primarily affect immediate rather than delayed memory, particularly in White Americans.

Keywords: Aging; Cognition; Memory; Older age; Toxoplasma gondii; Toxoplasmosis.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Protozoan / immunology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Memory Disorders / psychology
  • Memory, Long-Term*
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Toxoplasma / immunology
  • Toxoplasmosis / epidemiology*
  • Toxoplasmosis / immunology
  • Toxoplasmosis / psychology
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Antibodies, Protozoan
  • Immunoglobulin G