Selected infectious agents and risk of schizophrenia among U.S. military personnel

David W. Niebuhr, Amy M. Millikan, David N. Cowan, Robert Yolken, Yuanzhang Li, Natalya S. Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: A number of studies have reported associations between Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) infection and the risk of schizophrenia. Most existing studies have used small populations and postdiagnosis specimens. As part of a larger research program, the authors conducted a hypothesis-generating case control study of T. gondii antibodies among individuals discharged from the U.S. military with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and serum specimens available from both before and after diagnosis. Method: The patients (N=180) were military members who had been hospitalized and discharged from military service with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Healthy comparison subjects (3:1 matched on several factors) were members of the military who were not discharged. The U.S. military routinely collects and stores serum specimens of military service members. The authors used microplate-enzyme immunoassay to measure immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody levels to T. gondii, six herpes viruses, and influenza A and B viruses and immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibody levels to T. gondii in pre- and postdiagnosis serum specimens. Results: A significant positive association between the T. gondii IgG antibody and schizophrenia was found; the overall hazard ratio was 1.24. The association between IgG and schizophrenia varied by the time between the serum specimen collection and onset of illness. Conclusion: The authors found significant associations between increased levels of scaled T. gondii IgG antibodies and schizophrenia for antibodies measured both prior to and after diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-106
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Volume165
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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