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Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) IgG seropositivity and serointensity have been previously associated with suicidal self-directed violence (SSDV). Although associations with unipolar depression have also been investigated, the results have been inconsistent, possibly as a consequence of high heterogeneity. We have now studied this association in a more homogeneous population, [that is (i.e.) Old Order Amish (OOA)] with previously reported high T. gondii seroprevalence. In 306 OOA with a mean age of 46.1±16.7 years, including 191 (62.4%) women in the Amish Wellness Study, we obtained both T. gondii IgG titers (by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay [ELISA]), and depression screening questionnaires (Patient Health Questionnaire [PHQ-9] [n=280] and PHQ-2 [n=26]). Associations between T. gondii IgG and dysphoria/hopelessness and anhedonia scores on depression screening questionnaires were analyzed using multivariable linear methods with adjustment for age and sex. Serointensity was associated with both current dysphoria/hopelessness (p=0.045) and current combined anhedonia and dysphoria/hopelessness (p=0.043), while associations with simple anhedonia and past/lifelong (rather than current) phenotypes were not significant. These results indicate the need for larger longitudinal studies to corroborate the association between dysphoria/hopelessness and T. gondii IgG-titers. Current hopelessness is a known risk factor for SSDV which responds particularly well to cognitive behavioral therapy, and may be a focused treatment target for T. gondii-positive individuals at high-risk for SSDV.

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Pteridines, v. 28, issue 3-4, p. 185-194