Toxoplasma gondii seropositivity, intraneuronal cysts, serointensity, brain volume


The intracellular protozoal parasite Toxoplasma gondii has been associated with worsened cognitive function in animal models and in humans. Despite these associations, the mechanisms by which Toxoplasma gondii might affect cognitive function remain unknown, although Toxoplasma gondii does produce physiologically active intraneuronal cysts and appears to affect dopamine synthesis. Using data from the UK Biobank, we sought to determine whether Toxoplasma gondii is associated with decreased prefrontal, hippocampal, and thalamic gray-matter volumes and with decreased total gray-matter and total white-matter volumes in an adult community-based sample. The results from adjusted multivariable regression modelling showed no associations between Toxoplasma gondii and prefrontal, hippocampal, and thalamic brain gray-matter volumes. In contrast, natural-log transformed antibody levels against the Toxoplasma gondii p22 (b = -3960, 95-percent confidence interval, -6536 to -1383, p < .01) and sag1 (b = -4863, 95-percent confidence interval, –8301 to -1425, p < .01) antigens were associated with smaller total gray-matter volume, as was the mean of natural-log transformed p22 and sag1 titers (b = -6141, 95-percent confidence interval, -9886 to -2397, p < .01). There were no associations between any of the measures of Toxoplasma gondii and total white-matter volume. These findings suggest that Toxoplasma gondii might be associated with decreased total gray-matter in middle-aged and older middle-aged adults in a community-based sample from the United Kingdom.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Erickson et al.




Family, Home, and Social Sciences



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Psychology Commons