Association between intracellular infectious agents and Tourette’s syndrome

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Abstract

The underlying pathophysiological mechanisms in Tourette’s syndrome (TS) are still unclear. Increasing evidence supports the involvement of infections, possibly on the basis of an altered immune status. Not only streptococci but also other infectious agents may be involved. This study investigates the association between the neurotrophic agents Chlamydia, Toxoplasma and TS. 32 patients with TS and 30 healthy matched controls were included. For each individual, IgA/IgG antibody titers against Chlamydia trachomatis/pneumoniae and Toxoplasma gondii were evaluated and analyzed with Fisher’s exact test. We found a significantly higher rate of TS patients with elevated antibody titers against Chlamydia trachomatis (P = 0.017) as compared to controls. A trend toward a higher prevalence in the Tourette’s group was shown for Toxoplasma (P = 0.069). In conclusion, within the TS patients a higher rate of antibody titers could be demonstrated, pointing to a possible role of Chlamydia and Toxoplasma in the pathogenesis of tic disorders. Because none of these agents has been linked with TS to date, a hypothesis is that infections could contribute to TS by triggering an immune response. It still remains unclear whether tic symptoms are partly due to the infection or to changes in the immune balance caused by an infection.