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J Psychiatr Res. 2015 Jan;60:87-94. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2014.09.019. Epub 2014 Sep 28.

"Latent" infection with Toxoplasma gondii: association with trait aggression and impulsivity in healthy adults.

Author information

1
Department of Public Health, Mercyhurst Institute for Public Health, Mercyhurst University, Erie, PA, USA.
2
Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 19, Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC), Denver, CO, USA; Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO, USA; Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO, USA; Department of Neurology, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO, USA.
3
Department of Psychiatry, Sansone Centre for Well-Being, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA.
4
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.
5
DC Department of Behavioral Health, Saint Elizabeths Hospital, Psychiatry Residency Program, Washington, DC, USA.
6
Department of Psychiatry, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle, Germany.
7
Division of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University, Van Andel Research Institute, Grand Rapids, MI, USA.
8
University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA.
9
Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland-Baltimore School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.
10
Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 19, Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC), Denver, CO, USA; Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland-Baltimore School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA; Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 5, Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC), Baltimore, MD, USA. Electronic address: tpostolache@psych.umaryland.edu.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Latent chronic infection with Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii), a common neurotropic pathogen, has been previously linked with suicidal self-directed violence (SSDV). We sought to determine if latent infection with T. gondii is associated with trait aggression and impulsivity, intermediate phenotypes for suicidal behavior, in psychiatrically healthy adults.

METHODS:

Traits of aggression and impulsivity were analyzed in relationship to IgG antibody seropositivity for T. gondii and two other latent neurotropic infections, herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV1) and cytomegalovirus (CMV). One thousand community-residing adults residing in the Munich metropolitan area with no Axis I or II conditions by SCID for DSM-IV (510 men, 490 women, mean age 53.6 ± 15.8, range 20-74). Plasma samples were tested for IgG antibodies to T. gondii, HSV-1 and CMV by ELISA. Self-reported ratings of trait aggression scores (Questionnaire for Measuring Factors of Aggression [FAF]) and trait impulsivity (Sensation-Seeking Scale-V [SSS-V]) were analyzed using linear multivariate methods.

RESULTS:

T. gondii IgG seropositivity was significantly associated with higher trait reactive aggression scores among women (p < .01), but not among men. T. gondii-positivity was also associated with higher impulsive sensation-seeking (SSS-V Disinhibition) among younger men (p < .01) aged 20-59 years old (median age = 60). All associations with HSV-1 and CMV were not significant.

CONCLUSIONS:

Aggression and impulsivity, personality traits considered as endophenotypes for SSDV, are associated with latent T. gondii infection in a gender and age-specific manner, and could be further investigated as prognostic and treatment targets in T. gondii-positive individuals at risk for SSDV.

KEYWORDS:

Aggression; Impulsivity; Personality; Toxoplasma gondii

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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