Scientists: stronger link between cat virus and schizophrenia
New research done by scientists shows stronger evidence for a link between a parasite in cat faeces and undercooked meat and an increased risk of schizophrenia.
Research published today in Procedings of the Royal Society B, shows how the invasion or replication of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii in rats may be inhibited by using anti-psychotic or mood stabilising drugs.
The researchers tested anti-psychotic and mood stabilising medications used for the treatment of schizophrenia on rats infected with T. gondii and found they were as, or more, effective at preventing behaviourial alterations as anti-T. gondii drugs. This led them to believe that T. gondii may have a role in the development of some cases of schizophrenia.
Dr Joanne Webster from Imperial College London, and lead researcher said: "Although we are certainly not saying that exposure to this parasite does definitely lead to the development of schizophrenia, this and previous studies do show there may be a link in a few individuals, providing new clues for how we treat toxoplasmosis and schizophrenia."
Previous epidemiological and neuropathological studies have indicated some cases of schizophrenia may be associated with environmental factors, such as exposure to the parasite T. gondii. At the same time several of the medications used to treat schizophrenia have been shown to posess anti-parasitic and in particular anti-T.gondii properties. This led the authors to suspect that the anti-psychotic activity of these medications may be due in part to their inhibition of these parasites.
When the rats were given Haloperidol, an anti-psychotic, and Valporic acid, a mood stabiliser, the behavioural symptoms of T.gondii were reduced. They found the drugs were able to limit the 'suicidal feline' attraction by which the rats became less aware of the dangers of cats.
Dr Joanne Webster added: "By showing that drugs used to treat schizophrenia affect the parasite T. gondii, this does provide further evidence for its role in the development of some cases schizophrenia. It may be that anti-psychotic drugs work partly by parasite inhibition, and this could lead to new medicine and treatment combinations."
The researchers have already begun human clinical trials using anti-T. gondii treatments as adjunct therapies for schizophrenia with researchers at Johns Hopkins University.
For More information on this topic:
Pregnant Women's Exposure to Cats with the the T. Gondi virus may increase child's schizophrenia risk later in life
Avoiding Childhood Exposure to Cats with the the T. Gondi virus may reduce schizophrenia risk
Posted by at January 18, 2006 03:37 AM
More Information on Schizophrenia Causes, Risk Factors & Prevention
please could you ask Dr Joanne Webster from Imperial College London to email me on the above address. My son aged 30 has just been diagnosed with schizophrenia and has a very strong link with cats! I would be grateful to pursue this further, many thanks
Posted by: Di Greenwood at January 28, 2006 07:34 AM
My sister in law has been diagnosed with Schizpphrenia since 1992. She has a strong link with cats so did her mom while she was pregnant. I would be grateful to know more about this and am glad to provide more information for research
Posted by: KB at January 30, 2006 11:14 AM
Could someone email me this information? Our neighborhood is dealing with an animal hoarder who has nearly two hundred cats, three goats and about a dozen dogs in a single family home. She is socially isolated, thinks everyone is against her, and is delusional about the death/harm that she is causing the animals. She also has aluminum foil on her windows. In addition to animal control, we would like to get Mental Health Organizations involved.
Posted by: shirley at February 1, 2006 06:03 PM
When this is tested further is there any way that someone could be cured of this disease? Is there any way to kill this virus in people safely? This is really important to me I was dianosed around 1992 or 93 I almost always had a cat and dogs sometimes rabbits I once had a goat.Do others animals carry this? This is vital information thank you very much for your research and letting it be known. Hope to hear more soon.
Posted by: L.P at February 7, 2006 07:47 PM
Is there a test to determine whether one has this parasite?
And further, can one do anything about it?
I have schizophrenia and am trying to find something that will help in diagnosing and treating the illness.
Posted by: Cdm at February 11, 2006 06:21 PM
It seems that at this point it's still being researched. But I did find something similar to this recently, another disorder was treated indirectly with a drug that relieved symptoms and had the side-effect of removing the virus. It seems that there is something going on here that doctors do not understand.
Posted by: Michael S. at February 13, 2006 09:54 AM
My daughter has all the sypmtoms of bipolar disorder and all the symtons of congenital toxoplasmosis, can someone refer me to a LA doctor that would diagnos by cat scan and blood tests and treat toxoplasmosis till all the calcifications were gone? This is standard for aids patients, why not others sensitive to the virus?
Posted by: Lee D. at July 21, 2006 04:49 PM
As a psychiatrist, I was very disheartened to see this article as I think it is terribly misinformed. Antipsychotics are used to treat nearly ANY behavioral disturbance regardless of the cause. For example, we use antipsychotics to treat delerium due to urinary tract infections, cancer, stroke, old age, electrolyte abnormalities, etc., as well as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The press is saying that since antipsychotics are effective in the treatment of behavioral disturbances due to toxoplasmosis in rats, that toxo must cause schizophrenia. This is obviously faulty logic. Schizophrenia as far as we know is a genetic disorder that can potentially be unmasked by ANY stressor. Chances are, if you wind up with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, it would have happened whether or not you were exposed to animals as a child. Please allow your children to enjoy their childhood pets just like the billions of other healthy children in this world. And please stop spreading ignorant research. Thanks.
Posted by: S. LaPrairie, M.D. at August 7, 2006 07:14 AM
Given how long it took for H.pylori to be accepted as a cause of duodenal ulcers, can this research be as far off-base as Dr LaPrairie suggests.
There is no direct cause/effect link being "pushed" at this stage, merely an hypothesis to be tested.
Obviously, all the data is not in but given that T.gondii is known to take up residence in the brain, especially in glial cells, why would it be so strange to suppose that the supposedly dormant parasite did not have some effect on brain chemistry?
"billions of other healthy children" do indeed enjoy their pets with no effect but that does not preclude other children, and maybe even some adults having a genetic or other factor that will cause unwanted side-effects from T.gondii (and possibly S.pyogenes) infections.
The concept is at least worth investigation since both infections are identifiable via blood test and are relatively easily treated.
Posted by: LJ at November 12, 2007 10:45 AM
I suggest Dr. LaPrairie to read the article again and not put assumptions and misinterpretations into the article. It is incredibly disheartening to hear an M.D. speak like this. Dr. LaPrairie's comment is illogical and does not follow from what the article says, and especially not the following quote:
"Although we are certainly not saying that exposure to this parasite does definitely lead to the development of schizophrenia, this and previous studies do show there may be a link in a few individuals, providing new clues for how we treat toxoplasmosis and schizophrenia."
Nobody is saying that T. gondii causes all schizophrenia. Nobody even said it causes schizophrenia in some cases. And even if it does have an effect, nobody said it is the sole cause.
Posted by: logic at January 14, 2008 02:56 AM
My SON has all the sypmtoms of bipolar disorder and all the symtons of congenital toxoplasmosis, can someone refer me to a Floida doctor that would diagnos by cat scan and blood tests and treat toxoplasmosis.
Posted by: Ann Firpi at May 30, 2008 10:36 PM