A critical assessment of the association between postnatal toxoplasmosis and epilepsy in immune-competent patients.
Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2017 Jan 12. Epub 2017 Jan 12. PMID: 28083719
J W Uzorka
While postnatal toxoplasmosis in immune-competent patients is generally considered a self-limiting and mild illness, it has been associated with a variety of more severe clinical manifestations. The causal relation with some manifestations, e.g. myocarditis, has been microbiologically proven, but this is not unequivocally so for other reported associations, such as with epilepsy. We aimed to systematically assess causality between postnatal toxoplasmosis and epilepsy in immune-competent patients. A literature search was performed. The Bradford Hill criteria for causality were used to score selected articles for each component of causality. Using an arbitrary but defined scoring system, the maximal score was 15 points (13 for case reports). Of 704 articles, five case reports or series and five case-control studies were selected. The strongest evidence for a causal relation was provided by two case reports and one case-control study, with a maximal causality score of, respectively, 9/13, 10/13 and 10/15. The remaining studies had a median causality score of 7 (range 5-9). No selection bias was identified, but 6/10 studies contained potential confounders (it was unsure whether the infection was pre- or postnatal acquired, or immunodeficiency was not specifically excluded). Based on the evaluation of the available literature, although scanty and of limited quality, a causal relationship between postnatal toxoplasmosis and epilepsy seems possible. More definite proof requires further research, e.g. by performing Toxoplasma serology in all de novo epilepsy cases.