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Microbes Infect. 2009 Nov;11(13):1011-8. doi: 10.1016/j.micinf.2009.07.007. Epub 2009 Jul 26.

Serological pattern consistent with infection with type I Toxoplasma gondii in mothers and risk of psychosis among adult offspring.

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The Stanley Division of Developmental Neurovirology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 600 N. Wolfe Street, 1105 Blalock, Baltimore, MD 21287-4933, USA.


Previous studies have shown that maternal antibodies to Toxoplasma measured during pregnancy are associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia and other psychoses in adult offspring. Recently, it has been recognized that different genotypes of Toxoplasma have distinct neuropathogenic potential. The objective of this study was to investigate whether parasite genotype is a contributing factor to disease risk. We have developed an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) that uses polymorphic polypeptides specific to the three clonal parasite lineages and derived from three dense granule antigens, GRA5, GRA6 and GRA7. We used this assay to measure type-specific antibodies in the sera from 219 pregnant women whose children developed schizophrenia and affective psychotic illnesses in adult life, and 618 matched unaffected control mothers from three cohorts of the Collaborative Perinatal Project. We found that the offspring of mothers with a serological pattern consistent with Toxoplasma type capital I, Ukrainian infection were at significantly increased risk for the development of psychoses as compared with the matched unaffected control mothers (odds ratio=1.94; 95% confidence interval=1.08-3.46; p=0.03). The risk was particularly elevated for affective psychoses (OR=5.24; 95% CI=1.67-16.5; p=0.005). In contrast, we did not find an association between maternal antibodies to other genotypes and risk of psychoses in the offspring. These findings suggest an influence of the parasite genotype on increased risk of psychosis and provide further support for a substantive role of Toxoplasma in the etiology of psychosis.

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