Recent studies have linked infectious agents to schizophrenia. The largest number of studies has involved the analysis of Toxoplasma gondii; these studies were subjected to a meta-analysis. Published articles and abstracts were identified by searches of MEDLINE, Ovid, and Google Scholar; by a search of Chinese publications; through letters to researchers; and by visiting China. Published and unpublished controlled studies that used serological methods for measuring T. gondii antibodies to assess inpatients and/or outpatients diagnosed with schizophrenia were selected for analysis, and source documents were translated as needed. Forty-two studies carried out in 17 countries over 5 decades were identified; 23 of these (6 unpublished) met selection criteria. The combined odds ratio (OR) was 2.73 (95% confidence interval, 2.10 to 3.60; chi-square with 1 df 263; P <. 000001). Seven studies that included only patients with first-episode schizophrenia (OR 2.54) did not differ significantly from 16 studies that included patients in all clinical phases (OR 2.79). The results suggest that individuals with schizophrenia have an increased prevalence of antibodies to T. gondii. This association is consistent with other epidemiological studies as well as with animal studies. Although the OR of 2.73 is modest, it exceeds that for genetic or other environmental factors identified to date and suggests that Toxoplasma is in some way associated with a large number of cases of schizophrenia. If an etiological association can be proven, it would have implications for the design of measures for the prevention and treatment of this disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health