Toxocariasis and epilepsy: systematic review and meta-analysis.

Research paper by Graziella G Quattrocchi, Alessandra A Nicoletti, Benoit B Marin, Elisa E Bruno, Michel M Druet-Cabanac, Pierre-Marie PM Preux

Indexed on: 21 Aug '12Published on: 21 Aug '12Published in: PLoS neglected tropical diseases


Human toxocariasis is a zoonotic infection caused by the larval stages of Toxocara canis (T. canis) and less frequently Toxocara cati (T. cati). A relationship between toxocariasis and epilepsy has been hypothesized. We conducted a systematic review and a meta-analysis of available data to evaluate the strength of association between epilepsy and Toxocara spp. seropositivity and to propose some guidelines for future surveys.Electronic databases, the database from the Institute of Neuroepidemiology and Tropical Neurology of the University of Limoges (http://www-ient.unilim.fr/) and the reference lists of all relevant papers and books were screened up to October 2011.We performed a systematic review of literature on toxocariasis (the exposure) and epilepsy (the outcome). Two authors independently assessed eligibility and study quality and extracted data. A common odds ratio (OR) was estimated using a random-effects meta-analysis model of aggregated published data.Seven case-control studies met the inclusion criteria, for a total of 1867 participants (850 cases and 1017 controls). The percentage of seropositivity (presence of anti-Toxocara spp. antibodies) was higher among people with epilepsy (PWE) in all the included studies even if the association between epilepsy and Toxocara spp. seropositivity was statistically significant in only 4 studies, with crude ORs ranging 2.04-2.85. Another study bordered statistical significance, while in 2 of the included studies no significant association was found. A significant (p < 0.001) common OR of 1.92 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.50-2.44] was estimated. Similar results were found when meta-analysis was restricted to the studies considering an exclusively juvenile population and to surveys using Western Blot as confirmatory or diagnostic serological assay.Our results support the existence of a positive association between Toxocara spp. seropositivity and epilepsy. Further studies, possibly including incident cases, should be performed to better investigate the relationship between toxocariasis and epilepsy.