PLoS One. 2022 Jun 23;17(6):e0270377. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0270377. eCollection 2022.
INTRODUCTION: Neurotropic pathogens such as Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) which result in chronic infections in the brain are associated with mental illnesses. In view of this, a growing body of literature has revealed the possible interaction of schizophrenia and T. gondii infection.
METHOD: A case-control study was conducted from February 2018 to January 2019 among 47 Schizophrenia patients and 47 age and sex-matched controls. Data was collected using a structured questionnaire. Serum was used for serological analysis of anti-T. gondii IgG and IgM antibodies through chemiluminescent immunoassay. Proportions and mean with standard deviations (SD) were used as descriptive measures and variables with p-values <0.05 were considered as statistically significant and independently associated with schizophrenia.
RESULT: The mean ages of schizophrenia patients and controls were 29.64 ± 5.8 yrs and 30.98 ± 7.3 yrs, respectively. We found that 81.9% (77/94) of the study subjects had a positive anti-T. gondii IgG antibody. While the difference is statistically insignificant, schizophrenic patients have a marginally higher seroprevalence of toxoplasmosis than controls (87.2% vs 80.9%; p = 0.398). Schizophrenia cases who live in homes with soil floors have a significantly higher T. gondii infection as compared to those who live in homes with cement/ceramic floors (90.9% vs 33.3%; p = 0.004). Furthermore, there was a significantly lower T. gondii infection among schizophrenic cases who were taking antipsychotic medication for more than three yrs (79.3% vs 100.0%, p = 0.039). On the other hand, among all study subjects who have T. gondii infection, subjects who are addicted to khat and alcohol were about seven times more likely to develop schizophrenia (71.4% vs 47.7%, OR = 7.13, p = 0.024).
CONCLUSION: Our data is not sufficient to show a significant positive correlation between T. gondii infection and schizophrenia. For study subjects with T. gondii infection, addiction to khat and alcohol is one of the risk factors for schizophrenia.