Toxoplasma gondii: Biological Parameters of the Connection to Schizophrenia

Schizophr Bull. 2018 Aug 20;44(5):983-992. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sby082.


It is increasingly evident that the brain is not truly an immune privileged site and that cells of the central nervous system are sensitive to the inflammation generated when the brain is fighting off infection. Among the many microorganisms that have access to the brain, the apicomplexan protozoan Toxoplasma gondii has been one of the most studied. This parasite has been associated with many neuropsychiatric disorders including schizophrenia. This article provides a comprehensive review of the status of Toxoplasma research in schizophrenia. Areas of interest include (1) the limitations and improvements of immune-based assays to detect these infections in humans, (2) recent discoveries concerning the schizophrenia-Toxoplasma association, (3) findings of Toxoplasma neuropathology in animal models related to schizophrenia pathogenesis, (4) interactions of Toxoplasma with the host genome, (5) gastrointestinal effects of Toxoplasma infections, and (6) therapeutic intervention of Toxoplasma infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain* / immunology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome* / immunology
  • Humans
  • Schizophrenia* / epidemiology
  • Schizophrenia* / etiology
  • Schizophrenia* / immunology
  • Toxoplasma* / isolation & purification
  • Toxoplasma* / pathogenicity
  • Toxoplasmosis* / complications
  • Toxoplasmosis* / epidemiology
  • Toxoplasmosis* / immunology