People with rage disorder twice as likely to have brain parasite infection

In a study involving 358 adult subjects, a team led by researchers from the University of Chicago found that toxoplasmosis, a relatively harmless parasitic infection carried by an estimated 30 percent of all humans, is associated with intermittent explosive disorder and increased aggression.

“Our work suggests that latent infection with the toxoplasma gondii parasite may change brain chemistry in a fashion that increases the risk of aggressive behavior,” said senior study author Emil Coccaro, MD…

“However, we do not know if this relationship is causal, and not everyone that tests positive for toxoplasmosis will have aggression issues,” Coccaro said, adding that additional studies are needed.

Intermittent explosive disorder is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, as recurrent, impulsive, problematic outbursts of verbal or physical aggression that are disproportionate to the situations that trigger them. IED is thought to affect as many as 16 million Americans, more than bipolar disorder and schizophrenia combined.

As part of their pioneering research to improve diagnosis and treatment for IED and impulsive aggression, Coccaro and his colleagues examined possible connections to toxoplasmosis, an extremely common parasitic infection. Transmitted through the feces of infected cats, undercooked meat or contaminated water, toxoplasmosis is typically latent and harmless for healthy adults. However, it is known to reside in brain tissue, and has been linked to several psychiatric diseases, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and suicidal behavior…

❝ “Correlation is not causation, and this is definitely not a sign that people should get rid of their cats,” said study co-author Royce Lee, MD…“It will take experimental studies to see if treating a latent toxoplasmosis infection with medication reduces aggressiveness,” Coccaro said.

In a nation where a court ruled eating too many Twinkies a legitimate defense for murder, the discovery of a brain parasite that might provoke murderous rage is a bloody-well breakthrough.

8 thoughts on “People with rage disorder twice as likely to have brain parasite infection

  1. Cassandra says:

    “Pushing a parasite from land to sea : Increases in coastal development and precipitation pave the way for pathogens” (University of California – Davis 9/6/16) “Coastal waters near heavy human development are more likely to receive land-based “pathogen pollution,” which can include viruses, bacteria and parasites, according to a recent study from the University of California, Davis. The study said higher levels of rainfall and development increase the risk of disease-causing organisms flowing to the ocean.
    The study, published recently in Nature Scientific Reports, adds to years of work by a consortium of researchers led by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine’s Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The scientists were called upon to help decipher the mystery in the late 1990s when a parasite hosted by cats, Toxoplasma gondii, caused deaths in sea otters along the coast of California.”
    (“From 1910 to 2010, California’s human population, the majority of which resides in coastal counties, expanded from 2.4 million to more than 37 million, with close to 50 million people expected by 2050.”)

  2. Sujuk says:

    New method discovered for detecting the presence in ham of the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-11/uog-anm110416.php …”despite health controls, the pig still remains a potentially important source of the parasite T. gondii, one of the worst opportunistic parasites in immunosuppressed people, responsible for malformation and deficiencies in newborns, such us microcephaly, hydrocephaly, blindness, and congenital heart diseases, if the primary infection occurs in pregnant mothers”.

  3. Uh-oh says:

    “The parasite Toxoplasma is carried by a large portion of the global human population. Now a study led by researchers at Stockholm University shows how this microscopic parasite so successfully spreads in the body, for example to the brain. The parasite infects immune cells and hijacks their identity. The study is published in the scientific journal Cell Host & Microbe.” https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/969386
    “…The study shows that the parasite injects the protein into the nucleus of the immune cell and thus changes the cell’s identity. The parasite tricks the immune cell into thinking it is another type of cell. This changes the gene expression and behavior of the immune cell. Toxoplasma causes infected cells which normally should not travel in the body to move very quickly and in this way the parasite spreads to different organs.
    The phenomenon has been described as Toxoplasma turning immune cells into Trojan horses or wandering “zombies” that spread the parasite. The newly published study provides a molecular explanation for the phenomenon, and also shows that the parasite is much more targeted in its spread than previously thought.”

  4. Dina Sanichar says:

    “Behavior-changing parasite moves wolves to the head of the pack
    A parasite associated with bold behavior is also associated with pack leadership.” https://arstechnica.com/science/2022/11/what-makes-a-leader-in-yellowstones-wolves-its-parasitic-infections/
    “Toxoplasma gondii is a ubiquitous protozoan parasite that can infect any warm-blooded species. In lab studies, infection with T. gondii has been shown to increase dopamine and testosterone levels along with risk-taking behaviors in hosts including rodents, chimps, and hyenas. Oh, and humans.”

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