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1.  Potential immunomodulatory effects of latent toxoplasmosis in humans 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:274.
Background
About 30% of the population worldwide are infected with the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Latent toxoplasmosis has many specific behavioral and physiological effects on the human organism. Modified reactivity of the immune system has been suggested to play a key role in many of these effects. For example, the immunosuppression hypothesis explains the higher probability of the birth of male offspring observed in Toxoplasma-positive humans and mice by the protection of the (more immunogenic) male embryos against abortion.
Methods
Here we searched for indices of immunosuppression in Toxoplasma-positive subjects by comparing clinical records of immunology outpatients.
Results
Our cohort study showed that the male patients with latent toxoplasmosis had decreased and the Toxoplasma-positive women had increased leukocyte, NK-cell and monocyte counts in comparison with controls. The B-cell counts were reduced in both Toxoplasma-positive men and women. The difference between Toxoplasma-positive and Toxoplasma-negative subjects diminished with the decline of the specific Toxoplasma antibody titre (a proxy for the length of infection), which is consistent with the observed decreasing strength of the effect of latent toxoplasmosis on human reproduction. The prevalence of toxoplasmosis in 128 male patients was unusually low (10.9%) which contrasted with normal prevalence in 312 female patients (23.7%) and in general population Prague (20-30%).
Conclusions
Latent toxoplasmosis has immunomodulatory effects in human and probably protects men against some classes of immunopathological diseases. The main limitation of the present study was the absence of the data on the immunoreactivity of immune cells subpopulations. Therefore further studies are needed to search for indices of immunosuppression in human using more specific markers.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-274
PMCID: PMC3213179  PMID: 22008411
2.  Increased incidence of traffic accidents in Toxoplasma-infected military drivers and protective effect RhD molecule revealed by a large-scale prospective cohort study 
Background
Latent toxoplasmosis, protozoan parasitosis with prevalence rates from 20 to 60% in most populations, is known to impair reaction times in infected subjects, which results, for example, in a higher risk of traffic accidents in subjects with this life-long infection. Two recent studies have reported that RhD-positive subjects, especially RhD heterozygotes, are protected against latent toxoplasmosis-induced impairment of reaction times. In the present study we searched for increased incidence of traffic accidents and for protective effect of RhD positivity in 3890 military drivers.
Methods
Male draftees who attended the Central Military Hospital in Prague for regular entrance psychological examinations between 2000 and 2003 were tested for Toxoplasma infection and RhD phenotype at the beginning of their 1 to1.5-year compulsory military service. Subsequently, the data on Toxoplasma infection and RhD phenotype were matched with those on traffic accidents from military police records and the effects of RhD phenotype and Toxoplasma infection on probability of traffic accident was estimated with logistic regression.
Results
We confirmed, using for the first time a prospective cohort study design, increased risk of traffic accidents in Toxoplasma-infected subjects and demonstrated a strong protective effect of RhD positivity against the risk of traffic accidents posed by latent toxoplasmosis. Our results show that RhD-negative subjects with high titers of anti-Toxoplasma antibodies had a probability of a traffic accident of about 16.7%, i.e. a more than six times higher rate than Toxoplasma-free or RhD-positive subjects.
Conclusion
Our results showed that a common infection by Toxoplasma gondii could have strong impact on the probability of traffic accident in RhD negative subjects. The observed effects could provide not only a clue to the long-standing evolutionary enigma of the origin of RhD polymorphism in humans (the effect of balancing selection), but might also be the missing piece in the puzzle of the physiological function of the RhD molecule.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-72
PMCID: PMC2692860  PMID: 19470165
3.  Longer pregnancy and slower fetal development in women with latent "asymptomatic" toxoplasmosis 
Background
The purpose of this study was to confirm that women with latent toxoplasmosis have developmentally younger fetuses at estimated pregnancy week 16 and to test four exclusive hypotheses that could explain the observed data.
Methods
In the present retrospective cohort study we analysed by the GLM (general linear model) method data from 730 Toxoplasma-free and 185 Toxoplasma-infected pregnant women.
Results
At pregnancy week 16 estimated from the date of the last menstruation, the mothers with latent toxoplasmosis had developmentally younger fetuses based on ultrasound scan (P = 0.014). Pregnancy of Toxoplasma-positive compared to Toxoplasma-negative women was by about 1.3 days longer, as estimated both from the date of the last menstruation (P = 0.015) and by ultrasonography (P = 0.025).
Conclusion
The most parsimonious explanation for the observed data is retarded fetal growth during the first weeks of pregnancy in Toxoplasma-positive women. The phenomenon was only detectable in multiparous women, suggesting that the immune system may play some role in it.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-7-114
PMCID: PMC2233629  PMID: 17916246
4.  Probable neuroimmunological link between Toxoplasma and cytomegalovirus infections and personality changes in the human host 
Background
Recently, a negative association between Toxoplasma-infection and novelty seeking was reported. The authors suggested that changes of personality trait were caused by manipulation activity of the parasite, aimed at increasing the probability of transmission of the parasite from an intermediate to a definitive host. They also suggested that low novelty seeking indicated an increased level of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain of infected subjects, a phenomenon already observed in experimentally infected rodents. However, the changes in personality can also be just a byproduct of any neurotropic infection. Moreover, the association between a personality trait and the toxoplasmosis can even be caused by an independent correlation of both the probability of Toxoplasma-infection and the personality trait with the third factor, namely with the size of living place of a subject. To test these two alternative hypotheses, we studied the influence of another neurotropic pathogen, the cytomegalovirus, on the personality of infected subjects, and reanalyzed the original data after the effect of the potential confounder, the size of living place, was controlled.
Methods
In the case-control study, 533 conscripts were tested for toxoplasmosis and presence of anti-cytomegalovirus antibodies and their novelty seeking was examined with Cloninger's TCI questionnaire. Possible association between the two infections and TCI dimensions was analyzed.
Results
The decrease of novelty seeking is associated also with cytomegalovirus infection. After the size of living place was controlled, the effect of toxoplasmosis on novelty seeking increased. Significant difference in novelty seeking was observed only in the largest city, Prague.
Conclusion
Toxoplasma and cytomegalovirus probably induce a decrease of novelty seeking. As the cytomegalovirus spreads in population by direct contact (not by predation as with Toxoplasma), the observed changes are the byproduct of brain infections rather than the result of manipulation activity of a parasite. Four independent lines of indirect evidence, namely direct measurement of neurotransmitter concentration in mice, the nature of behavioral changes in rodents, the nature of personality changes in humans, and the observed association between schizophrenia and toxoplasmosis, suggest that the changes of dopamine concentration in brain could play a role in behavioral changes of infected hosts.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-5-54
PMCID: PMC1187888  PMID: 16000166
5.  Increased risk of traffic accidents in subjects with latent toxoplasmosis: a retrospective case-control study 
Background
The parasite Toxoplasma gondii infects 30–60% of humans worldwide. Latent toxoplasmosis, i.e., the life-long presence of Toxoplasma cysts in neural and muscular tissues, leads to prolongation of reaction times in infected subjects. It is not known, however, whether the changes observed in the laboratory influence the performance of subjects in real-life situations.
Methods
The seroprevalence of latent toxoplasmosis in subjects involved in traffic accidents (N = 146) and in the general population living in the same area (N = 446) was compared by a Mantel-Haenszel test for age-stratified data. Correlation between relative risk of traffic accidents and level of anti-Toxoplasma antibody titre was evaluated with the Cochran-Armitage test for trends.
Results
A higher seroprevalence was found in the traffic accident set than in the general population (Chi2MH = 21.45, p < 0.0001). The value of the odds ratio (OR) suggests that subjects with latent toxoplasmosis had a 2.65 (C.I.95= 1.76–4.01) times higher risk of an accident than the toxoplasmosis-negative subjects. The OR significantly increased with level of anti-Toxoplasma antibody titre (p < 0.0001), being low (OR = 1.86, C.I.95 = 1.14–3.03) for the 99 subjects with low antibody titres (8 and 16), higher (OR = 4.78, C.I.95 = 2.39–9.59) for the 37 subjects with moderate titres (32 and 64), and very high (OR = 16.03, C.I.95 = 1.89–135.66) for the 6 subjects with titres higher than 64.
Conclusion
The subjects with latent toxoplasmosis have significantly increased risk of traffic accidents than the noninfected subjects. Relative risk of traffic accidents decreases with the duration of infection. These results suggest that 'asymptomatic' acquired toxoplasmosis might in fact represent a serious and highly underestimated public health problem, as well as an economic problem.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-2-11
PMCID: PMC117239  PMID: 12095427

Results 1-5 (5)