The correlation between Toxoplasma gondii infection and prenatal depression in pregnant women

  • M. Nourollahpour Shiadeh
  • A. RostamiEmail author
  • B. D. Pearce
  • M. Gholipourmalekabadi
  • D. J. Newport
  • M. Danesh
  • S. Mehravar
  • S. J. Seyyedtabaei
Original Article


Previous studies have demonstrated that latent toxoplasmosis is associated with neuropsychiatric disorders. We evaluated the correlation between Toxoplasma gondii infection and prenatal depression. In this case–control study, we enrolled 116 depressed pregnant women and 244 healthy controls. The Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale (EPDS) was used to evaluate the depression symptom severity in study participants. All participants were screened for the anti-Toxoplasma IgG by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Seroprevalence of T. gondii did not significantly differ between the depressed pregnant women and healthy controls (OR = 1.4; 95 % CI = 0.9–2.19; P = 0.142). T. gondii IgG titer was significantly higher in depressed women (18.6 ± 10.9 IUs) than those in the control group (13.6 ± 8.1 IUs) (z = −5.36, P < 0.001). The T. gondii–positive depressed women showed a positive correlation of T. gondii IgG titer with the EPDS scores (r = 0.52; P < 0.01). The mean EPDS score was also significantly higher in the T. gondii–positive depressed women (20.7 ± 2.7) compared with the controls (18.36 ± 2.7) (P < 0.001). The results obtained from the current study revealed that T. gondii infection might affect susceptibility to depression and severity of depressive symptoms in pregnant women, particularly in those patients who have high antibody titers. Further study is required to fully elucidate the characteristics and mechanisms of this association.


Depressive Symptom Pregnant Woman Toxoplasmosis Postpartum Depression Depressed Woman 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors are very thankful to the staff of the prenatal health care centers of Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, especially Miss Khademi, for their kind assistance in sample collection. Most importantly, the authors would like to thank all the participants in this study. We are thankful for the collaboration of the Protozoology unit of the Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences.

Compliance with ethical standards

All procedures performed in studies were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Dr. Newport has received research support from Eli Lilly, Glaxo SmithKline (GSK), Janssen, the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Wyeth. He has served on speakers’ bureaus and/or received honoraria from Astra–Zeneca, Eli Lilly, GSK, Pfizer, and Wyeth. He has served on advisory boards for GSK. He has never served as a consultant to any biomedical or pharmaceutical corporations. Neither he nor family members have ever held equity positions in biomedical or pharmaceutical corporations. None of the other authors have any conflict of interest.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Nourollahpour Shiadeh
    • 1
  • A. Rostami
    • 2
    Email author
  • B. D. Pearce
    • 3
  • M. Gholipourmalekabadi
    • 4
    • 5
  • D. J. Newport
    • 6
  • M. Danesh
    • 1
  • S. Mehravar
    • 7
  • S. J. Seyyedtabaei
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Midwifery and Reproductive Health, Nursing and Midwifery SchoolMazandaran University of Medical SciencesSariIran
  2. 2.Department of Parasitology and Mycology, School of MedicineShahid Beheshti University of Medical SciencesTehranIran
  3. 3.Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public HealthEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  4. 4.Department of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, Faculty of Advanced Technologies in MedicineIran University of Medical ScienceTehranIran
  5. 5.Cellular and Molecular Research CenterIran University of Medical SciencesTehranIran
  6. 6.Departments of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and Obstetrics & Gynecology, Leonard M. Miller School of MedicineUniversity of MiamiMiamiUSA
  7. 7.Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public HealthTehran University of Medical ScienceTehranIran

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