Is Toxoplasma gondii a Trigger of Bipolar Disorder?
Pathogens. 2017 Jan 10 ;6(1). Epub 2017 Jan 10. PMID: 28075410
Claudia Del Grande
Toxoplasma gondii, a ubiquitous intracellular parasite, has a strong tropism for the brain tissue, where it forms intracellular cysts within the neurons and glial cells, establishing a chronic infection. Although latent toxoplasmosis is generally assumed to be asymptomatic in immunocompetent individuals, it is now clear that it can induce behavioral manipulations in mice and infected humans. Moreover, a strong relation has emerged in recent years between toxoplasmosis and psychiatric disorders. The link between T. gondii and schizophrenia has been the most widely documented; however, a significant association with bipolar disorder (BD) and suicidal/aggressive behaviors has also been detected. T. gondii may play a role in the etiopathogenesis of psychiatric disorders affecting neurotransmitters, especially dopamine, that are implicated in the emergence of psychosis and behavioral Toxoplasma-induced abnormalities, and inducing brain inflammation by the direct stimulation of inflammatory cytokines in the central nervous system. Besides this, there is increasing evidence for a prominent role of immune dysregulation in psychosis and BD. The aim of this review is to describe recent evidence suggesting a link between Toxoplasma gondii and BD, focusing on the interaction between immune responses and this infectious agent in the etiopathogenesis of psychiatric symptoms.