Toxoplasma gondii seropositivity in patients with depressive and anxiety disorders

Nienke J. de Bles*, Juliette E.H. van der Does, Laetitia M. Kortbeek, Agnetha Hofhuis, Gerard van Grootheest, Albert M. Vollaard, Robert A. Schoevers, Albert M. van Hemert, Brenda W.J.H. Penninx, Nathaly Rius-Ottenheim, Erik J. Giltay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction: Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is an obligate intracellular parasite that is estimated to be carried by one-third of the world population. Latent T. gondii infection has been linked to several neuropsychiatric mood disorders and behaviors. The aim of the present study was to examine whether T. gondii seropositivity is associated with affective disorders, as well as with aggression reactivity and suicidal thoughts. Methods: In the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA), T. gondii antibodies were assessed in patients with current depressive (n ​= ​133), anxiety (n ​= ​188), comorbid depressive and anxiety (n ​= ​148), and remitted disorders (n ​= ​889), as well as in healthy controls (n ​= ​373) based on DSM-IV criteria. Seropositivity was analyzed in relation to disorder status, aggression reactivity and suicidal thoughts using multivariate analyses of covariance and regression analyses. Results: Participants were on average 51.2 years (SD ​= ​13.2), and 64.4% were female. Seropositivity was found in 673 participants (38.9%). A strong positive association between T. gondii seropositivity and age was observed. No significant associations were found between T. gondii seropositivity and disorder status, aggression reactivity and suicidal thoughts. The adjusted odds ratio (OR) for any remitted disorder versus controls was 1.13 (95% CI: 0.87-1.49), and for any current disorder versus controls was 0.94 (95% CI: 0.69-1.28). Conclusions: No evidence was found for a relationship between affective disorders and T. gondii infection in the current sample.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100197
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity - Health
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

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