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Front Public Health. 2013 Dec 25;1:73. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2013.00073. eCollection 2013.

A Positive Association between T. gondii Seropositivity and Obesity.

Author information

1
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Innovations Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland, School of Medicine , Baltimore, MD , USA ; Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland, School of Medicine , Baltimore, MD , USA.
2
St. Elizabeths Hospital, Psychiatry ResidencyTraining Program , Washington, DC , USA.
3
Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Nutrition, Department of Medicine, University of Maryland, School of Medicine , Baltimore, MD , USA.
4
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Maryland, School of Medicine , Baltimore, MD , USA.
5
Department of Psychiatry, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg , Halle , Germany.
6
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston , TX , USA.
7
Colleges of Nursing and Medicine, University of South Florida , Tampa, FL , USA.
8
Research Unit on Lifestyle and Inflammation-associated Risk Biomarkers, Clinical Institute for Medical and Chemical Laboratory Diagnosis, Medical University of Graz , Graz , Austria.
9
Department of Pediatrics, Paracelsus Medical School , Salzburg , Austria.
10
Section on Statistical Genetics, Department of Biostatistics, Nutrition Obesity Research Center, University of Alabama at Birmingham , Birmingham, AL , USA.
11
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Innovations Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland, School of Medicine , Baltimore, MD , USA ; Mood and Anxiety Disorder Program, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland, School of Medicine , Baltimore, MD , USA.

Abstract

Obesity is a global public health problem that is linked with morbidity, mortality, and functional limitations and has limited options for sustained interventions. Novel targets for prevention and intervention require further research into the pathogenesis of obesity. Consistently, elevated markers of inflammation have been reported in association with obesity, but their causes and consequences are not well understood. An emerging field of research has investigated the association of infections and environmental pathogens with obesity, potential causes of low grade inflammation that may mediate obesity risk. In this study, we estimate the possible association between Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) infection and obesity in a sample of 999 psychiatrically healthy adults. Individuals with psychiatric conditions, including personality disorders, were excluded because of the association between positive serology to T. gondii and various forms of serious mental illness that have a strong association with obesity. In our sample, individuals with positive T. gondii serology had twice the odds of being obese compared to seronegative individuals (p = 0.01). Further, individuals who were obese had significant higher T. gondii IgG titers compared to individuals who were non-obese. Latent T. gondii infection is very common worldwide, so potential public health interventions related to this parasite can have a high impact on associated health concerns.

KEYWORDS:

Toxoplasma gondii; body weight; inflammation; obesity; parasitic infection

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