Saturday, September 27, 2014

Recurrent headaches may be caused by cerebral toxoplasmosis

 2014 Aug 8;3(3):59-68. doi: 10.5409/wjcp.v3.i3.59. eCollection 2014.



To establish seroprevalence and provide characteristics of Toxoplasma gondii (TG) infection in children with recurrent headaches.


The study was performed in 178 children aged 7-17 years admitted consecutively to the Department of Pediatric Neurology from November 2009 to July 2011. The children were surveyed with a questionnaire with the help and assistance of their parents and blood samples taken on admission were studied for the presence of specific anti-TG IgM, IgG antibodies and IgG avidity using enzyme immunoassay Platelia Toxo IgM, IgG.


The study showed that 19 children (8 boys, 11 girls; 8-17 years old, mean age 14.36 years) had high serum anti-TG IgG antibody levels (range: 32.2 > 240 UI/mL, mean 120.18 UI/mL; positive value for IgG was ≥ 9 UI/mL). The avidity index (AI) ranged from 0.202 to 0.925 (scale: ≥ 0.5 high AI). The results for IgM antibodies were all negative and the obtained results ranged from 0.113 to 0.25 U/mL (mean = 0.191 IU/mL) and all values below 0.8 IU/mL were considered negative. The most frequent complaints found in the seropositive patients were headaches that affected the frontal (13 children), occipital (4) and parietal areas (5). Headaches usually had a pulsating (in 7 patients) and squeezing (6) character and rarely were piercing, dull or expanding. Interestingly, 8 children did not feel discomfort during the headaches, probably because they did not have sufficiently increased intracranial pressure yet. The headaches usually appeared 1-2 times/mo, lasted for 2-6 h, and had a mean intensity of 5.5 points in a 10 point subjective scale. The comorbidities included epilepsy (5 patients), various infections in 3 children (chronic eustachitis, chronic rhinitis, chronic purulent tonsillitis, streptococcal pharyngitis, meningitis, allergic diseases), disturbances of behavior, deficits of attention, and ocular and motor concentration disorders in 1 child. The electroencephalographic and neuroimaging studies performed in our patients had a very limited value in establishing cerebral toxoplasmosis.


Ten point six seven percent of the studied children had markedly increased serum anti-TG IgG antibodies and high AI indicated chronic infestation. It is suggested that tests for TG infection should be introduced to routine diagnostics in patients with recurrent headaches.


Cerebral toxoplasmosis; Children; Chronic Toxoplasma gondii infection; IgG avidity; Recurrent headaches; Seroprevalence of anti-Toxoplasma gondii IgG antibodies

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