Studies show that protozoal toxoplasmosis can interfere with brain function. The disease is associated with schizophrenia, depression and autism. Rats infected with parasites that cause toxoplasmosis behave in a strange way, losing the natural fear of cats, definite hosts of the protozoa that causes this disease. Studies show that, when exposed to the smell of cat urine, it seems that the predator is attracted to them.
And just like in mice, studies have shown that protozoal toxoplasmosis can cause changes in behavior in humans. Parasite is associated with schizophrenia, depression, autism, and even increased risk of car accidents.
New research has revealed that this protozoan can interfere with brain function. Otto von Guerick's University of Magdeburg and Leibniz Institute of Neurobiology have discovered that this parasite affects host cell metabolism.
Toxoplasmosis is caused by protozoan Toxoplasma gondii, which exists in the world. It infects birds and mammals, including humans. Parasites, however, can reproduce sexually only in the digestive system of cats and cats, definite hosts.
Toxoplasmosis patofactors are eliminated together with cats. Transmission of the disease occurs through contact with contaminated stuffing or by inputting contaminated food and water.
It is estimated that half of the entire adult population of the planet is infected with this protozoa, but in most cases its presence does not pass untouched and is a symptom of similar flu like fever, fatigue and muscle pain, as well as diarrhea. Toxoplasmosis is dangerous, however, for people with impaired immune system and during pregnancy.
Once infected, parasitic homes in the muscles and brain and remain dormant for the rest of their life, in what is called the occult treatment of infections.
According to a German study published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation, the parasite changes the molecular composition of the synapses, which are responsible for the transmission of brain signals.
"Toxoplasma gondii absorb people through digestion, enter the bloodstream and migrate to the brain, enter the nervous cells for the rest of the life," said Karl-Heinz Smalla of the Special Laboratory for Molecular Biology at LIN.
In collaboration with the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research, researchers could prove that the infection changes the amount of 300 synaptic proteins in the brain of the rat.
Animals exhibit, in particular, less protein near excitatory receptors that release glutamate. At the same time, there is an increase in the protein involved in the immune response.
"The glutamate synaptic dysfunction is associated with depression, schizophrenia and autism, and the components of the immune response are also associated with these diseases," says Ildiko Rita Dunay, who worked on the study. "It suggests that immunological reactions can cause changes in synapses that can lead to neurological disorders," he adds.
Researchers also found that sulfadiazine, an antibiotic used to treat toxoplasmosis, can normalize metabolism in the brain of infected mice. "All the proteins analyzed responsible for the transmission of glutamatergic signal have returned to normal, and inflammatory activity is also measurable," said scientist Björn Schott, who worked on the study.
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Deutsche Welle is an international television channel in Germany and produces independent journalism in 30 languages.