Toxoplasma gondii is a worldwide protozoon that can infect all nucleated vertebrate cells. Little information is available about the association between T. gondii infection and coronary atherosclerosis.
A total of 320 cases were enrolled (160 patients with coronary atherosclerosis and 160 non-atherosclerotic individuals). Blood samples were collected to measure anti-T. gondii immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and serum lipid profile. Coronary angiogram was also performed.
The seroprevalence of anti-Toxoplasma antibodies in atherosclerotic and non-atherosclerotic individuals was 63.1% and 46.2%, respectively, with higher levels of anti-T. gondii IgG in atherosclerotic patients. Consumption of contaminated water, unwashed fruits and vegetables and raw meat and contact with soil were significant risk factors for Toxoplasma infection. Significant differences were detected in serum levels of low-density lipoproteins, triglycerides and cholesterol between both groups. Positive correlations were detected between ELISA titres and serum levels of low-density lipoproteins, triglycerides and cholesterol, disease severity and the number of affected vessels. Male gender and contact with soil had a significant association with positive T. gondii serology in atherosclerotic patients.
Patients with coronary atherosclerosis have a high prevalence of T. gondii infection. More studies are crucial to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the effects of chronic toxoplasmosis on coronary atherosclerosis.