The known and missing links between Toxoplasma gondii and schizophrenia

Hany M. Elsheikha, Dietrich Busselberg, Xing Quan Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

20 Citations (Scopus)


Toxoplasma gondii, an intracellular protozoan parasite, has a striking predilection for infecting the Central Nervous System and has been linked to an increased incidence of a number of psychiatric diseases. Several in vitro and in vivo studies have shown that T. gondii infection can affect the structure, bioenergetics and function of brain cells, and alters several host cell processes, including dopaminergic, tryptophan-kynurenine, GABAergic, AKT1, Jak/STAT, and vasopressinergic pathways. These mechanisms underlying the neuropathology of latent toxoplasmosis seem to operate also in schizophrenia, supporting the link between the two disorders. Better understanding of the intricate parasite-neuroglial communications holds the key to unlocking the mystery of T. gondii-mediated schizophrenia and offers substantial prospects for the development of disease-modifying therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)749-759
Number of pages11
JournalMetabolic Brain Disease
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016



  • Host-pathogen interaction
  • Mental illness
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Toxoplasma gondii

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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