Systems analysis points to links
between Toxoplasma infection and common brain diseases.
Nearly one out of every three humans on earth
has a lifelong infection with the brain-dwelling parasite
Toxoplasma gondii. In a new report, researchers from multiple
institutions describe efforts to learn how infection with the
parasite Toxoplasma gondii may alter, and in some cases amplify,
several brain disorders, including epilepsy, Alzheimer's and
Parkinson's diseases as well as some cancers.
The research team decided to search for similar effects in
people. They focused on what they call the human "infectome" --
plausible links between the parasite's secreted proteins, expressed
human microRNAs, the neural chemistry of the human host, and the
multiple pathways that are perturbed by host-parasite interactions.
Using data collected from the National Collaborative Chicago-Based
Congenital Toxoplasmosis Study, which has diagnosed, treated and
followed 246 congenitally infected persons and their families since
1981, they performed a "comprehensive systems analysis," looking at
a range of parasite-generated biomarkers and assessing their
Toxoplasma Modulates Signature Pathways of Human Epilepsy,
Neurodegeneration & Cancer.
"Some epidemiologic-serologic studies show associations between
seropositivity for T. gondii and human neurologic diseases, for
example, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases...."
"They also found that: Small regulatory biomarkers -- bits of
microRNA or proteins found in children with severe toxoplasmosis --
matched those found in patients with neurodegenerative diseases like
Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease...."