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Germ in Cat Feces May Affect Human Brain, Behavior: Study
Date:12/10/2012

and anxiety. Disturbances of the GABA system occur in people with depression, schizophrenia, bipolar diseases, anxiety syndrome and other mental health disorders.

"For toxoplasma to make cells in the immune defense secrete GABA was as surprising as it was unexpected, and is very clever of the parasite," study leader Antonio Barragan, a researcher at the Center for Infectious Medicine at Karolinska Institute and the Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control, said in a Karolinska news release. "It would now be worth studying the links that exist between toxoplasmosis, the GABA systems and major public health threats," he added.

"We believe that this knowledge may be important for the further understanding of complex interactions in some major public health issues, that modern science still hasn't been able to explain fully," Barragan suggested. "At the same time, it's important to emphasize that humans have lived with this parasite for many millennia, so today's carriers of toxoplasma need not be particularly worried."

While the study found an association between the immune system reaction to T. gondii and mental health issues, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about toxoplasmosis.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Karolinska Institute, news release, Dec. 7, 2012


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