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Prevalence of Toxoplasma antibodies among patients with various autoimmune diseases
  1. J Petríková1,
  2. N Agmon-Levin1,2,
  3. Y Shapira1,
  4. O Barzilai1,
  5. M Ram1,
  6. B Gilburd1,
  7. C Selmi3,
  8. B Nicola4,
  9. B Larida5,
  10. M E Gershwin6,
  11. G Valentini7,
  12. M Matucci-Cerini7,
  13. J-M Anaja8,
  14. B-S P Katz9,
  15. M Blank1,
  16. Y Shoenfeld1,2,10
  1. 1Center for Autoimmune Diseases Sheba Medical Center, Israel
  2. 2Department of Medicine ‘B’, Sheba Medical Center, Tel-Hashomer, Israel
  3. 3Department of Internal Medicine, IRCCS Istituto Clinico Humanitas, University of Milan, Italy
  4. 4Laboratorio di Patologia Clinica, Ospedale Civile, 30027 S. Donà di Piave (VE), Italy
  5. 5Bio-Rad Laboratories, California, USA
  6. 6Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology, University of California at Davis School of Medicine, Davis, California, USA
  7. 7Department of Biomedicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Florence, Florence, Italy
  8. 8Center for Autoimmune Diseases Research, Corporación para Investigaciones Biológicas, Rosario University Medellin, Colombia
  9. 9Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  10. 10Incumbent of the Laura Schwarz-KipChair for Research of Autoimmune Diseases, Tel-Aviv University, Israel

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Background and Aim

Bacteria, viruses and parasites are often thought to be environmental triggers inducing or promoting autoimmune disorders. Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease caused by protozoan Toxoplasma gondii. The association of this infectious agents and autoimmunity has rarely been reported therefore, in order to evaluate the possible role of Toxoplasmosis in various autoimmune diseases the authors assessed serological evidence of recent and past-infection with Toxoplasma gondii of patients with AIDs.


The authors analysed sera originating from nearly 2000 patients with various autoimmune diseases such as anti-phospholipids syndrome (APS), various types of vasculitis, thyroid autoimmune diseases, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), systemic sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), Sjőrgen syndrome, primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), pemphigus vulgaris, multiple sclerosis, polymyositis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), as well as 437 geographically and sex-matched healthy controls. All sera were tested for the prevalence and titers of Toxoplasma gondii IgG and IgM utilising the Bio-Rad BioPlex 2200 system (Hercules, California, USA).


Higher prevalence of anti-Toxoplasma-antibodies (IgG) were associated with systemic sclerosis (p<0.0001), primary and secondary APS (p<0.0001), PBC (p<0.0001), thyroid autoimmune diseases (p<0.0001), pemphigus vulgaris (p<0.0001) and vasculitis compared to controls. Interestingly, there was a significantly higher prevalence of Toxoplasma antibodies in European RA patients compared with Colombian ones. In contrast the prevalence of anti-Toxoplasmosis antibodies was similar to controls in polymyositis, Churg-Strauss vasculitis, SLE, Sjőrgen syndrome, multiple sclerosis and IBD. As regarding a serological evidence of IgM, the authors found significantly higher prevalence of IgM anti-Toxoplasma antibodies in patients with IBD (p<0.05), primary and secondary APS (p<0.01), systemic sclerosis (p<0.05) and Hashimoto's thyroiditis (p<0.05).


Our findings indirectly imply Toxoplasma gondii playing a role in pathogenesis of several autoimmune diseases whereas in others no association was observed.