Having suffered from toxoplasmosis associated with several variants of the COMT gene increases the risk of suffering from schizophrenia, according to the study published in the journal Genes, with an impact factor of 4,069, by the University of Granada, the University of Barcelona and the State University of New York. Rafael Martínez, Head of the Intellectual Disability and Developmental Disabilities Research Unit of the Villablanca Foundation (UNIVIDD), CIBER Researcher in Mental Health (CIBERSAM), at the Pere Virgili Health Research Institute (IISPV) also participated in this study. )-BUSCA, and professor at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili.
Research shows that infection with Toxoplasma Gondii (which causes toxoplasmosis) interacts with several modifications of the COMT gene and increases the risk of schizophrenia, in particular with the Met/Met variant. This is the first study to analyze the interaction between this specific genetic variation and this environmental infectious risk factor.
The COMT gene is responsible for the metabolism of dopamine, one of the main neurotransmitters, and regulates its amount in the brain. But variants like the one studied (Met/Met) are less effective in this process and an excess of dopamine is caused.
Toxoplasma Gondii infection affects the rate of dopamine metabolism, so in an infected person who also has the COMT Met/Met gene, the chances of suffering from schizophrenia due to this excess dopamine in the brain are multiplied. by 2.7. Keep in mind that Toxoplasma infection
gondii can cause psychotic symptoms in infected people and can affect other neurotransmitters that play a secondary role in schizophrenia, such as serotonin and glutamate, but can affect.
Schizophrenia is a chronic, debilitating psychiatric illness characterized by changes in perception, thinking, affect, and behavior. Studies on the origin of the disease point to the interaction of neurochemical, genetic and environmental risk factors, which would alter the dopamine neurotransmission system. Despite the high heritability of schizophrenia, it is widely recognized that non-genetic factors such as certain neurotropic infections and other early stressors may also play a role.
Finally, it is the first article or study that analyzes the interaction between the two factors. The Villablanca Research Unit (UNIVIDD), the Mental Health CIBER (CIBERSAM), the Pere Virgili Health Research Institute (IISPV) – CERCA and the Rovira i Virgili University participated in the research work, among others elements that also collaborated.