Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) infects central nervous tissue and is kept in relative dormancy by a healthy immune system. Sleep disturbances have been found to precipitate mental illness, suicidal behavior and car accidents, which have been previously linked to T. gondii as well. We speculated that if sleep disruption, particularly insomnia, would mediate, at least partly, the link between T. gondii infection and related behavioral dysregulation, then we would be able to identify significant associations between sleep disruption and T. gondii. The mechanisms for such an association may involve dopamine (DA) production by T. gondii, or collateral effects of immune activation necessary to keep T. gondii in check. Sleep questionnaires from 2031 Old Order Amish were analyzed in relationship to T. gondii-IgG antibodies measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Toxoplasma gondii seropositivity and serointensity were not associated with any of the sleep latency variables or Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS). A secondary analysis identified, after adjustment for age group, a statistical trend toward shorter sleep duration in seropositive men (p=0.07). In conclusion, it is unlikely that sleep disruption mediates links between T. gondii and mental illness or behavioral dysregulation. Trending gender differences in associations between T. gondii and shorter sleep need further investigation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Medicine
- Clinical Biochemistry