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Autism, a lifelong neuro-developmental disorder is a uniquely human condition. Animal models are not the perfect tools for the full understanding of human development and behavior, but they can be an important place to start. This review focused on the recent updates of animal model research in autism.
We have reviewed the publications over the last three decades, which are related to animal model study in autism.
Animal models are important because they allow researchers to study the underlying neurobiology in a way that is not possible in humans. Improving the availability of better animal models will help the field to increase the development of medicines that can relieve disabling symptoms. Results from the therapeutic approaches are encouraging remarkably, since some behavioral alterations could be reversed even when treatment was performed on adult mice. Finding an animal model system with similar behavioral tendencies as humans is thus vital for understanding the brain mechanisms, supporting social motivation and attention, and the manner in which these mechanisms break down in autism. The ongoing studies should therefore increase the understanding of the biological alterations associated with autism as well as the development of knowledge-based treatments therapy for those struggling with autism.
In this review, we have presented recent advances in research based on animal models of autism, raising hope for understanding the disease biology for potential therapeutic intervention to improve the quality of life of autism individuals.
To evaluate to what extent a twice daily dose of Transcranial Pulsating ElectroMagnetic Fields (T-PEMF) was superior to once daily in patients with treatment-resistant depression as to obtaining symptom remission after 8 weeks of augmentation therapy.
A self-treatment set-up of the T-PEMF device was used allowing self-administration by patients in own homes. All patients were treated for 30 min per T-PEMF session. The antidepressant medication the patients were receiving at baseline remained unchanged during the trial. The patients were randomised to either one T-PEMF dose (active dose in the morning and sham in the afternoon) or two T-PEMF doses (active dose both morning and afternoon) in a double-blind procedure. A score of 7 or less on the Hamilton Depression Scale (HAM-D17) was the criterion of remission.
In total 34 patients received active T-PEMF once a day and 31 patients twice daily. After 5 weeks of therapy remission was obtained in 26.5% and 32.3% on one dose and two doses of T-PEMF, respectively. After 8 weeks the rate of remission was 73.5% and 67.7%, respectively. The side effects as measured by the Udvalget for Kliniske Undersøgelser scale showed a better toleration of the antidepresssive medication in both treatment groups, which was reflected by the WHO-5 well-being scale with increased scores in both groups of patients.
The high remission rate obtained by the T-PEMF augmentation was not a dose effect (one versus two daily T-PEMF sessions) but was explained by the extension of the treatment period from 5 to 8 weeks.
Schizophrenia (SZ) is a chronic illness that is treated symptomatically. Cognitive dysfunction is a core feature of SZ that is relatively intractable to pharmacotherapy. Yoga can improve cognitive function among healthy individuals. A recent open trial indicated significant benefits of yoga training (YT) in conjunction with conventional pharmacotherapy among patients with SZ.
To describe the protocol for an ongoing randomised controlled trial designed to test whether the reported beneficial effects of YT on cognitive function among SZ patients can be replicated. Secondarily, the effects of YT on daily functioning living skills are evaluated.
Consenting patients with SZ receive routine clinical treatment and are randomised to adjunctive YT, adjunctive physical exercise (PE) or treatment as usual (proposed N = 234 total, N = 78 in each group). The trial involves YT or PE 5 days a week and lasts 3 weeks. Participants are evaluated thrice over 6 months. Cognitive functions measured by Trail Making Test, University of Pennsylvania Neurocognitive Computerised Battery were primary outcome measures while clinical severity and daily functioning measured by Independent Living Skills Survey were secondary outcome measures.
A total of 309 participants have been randomised as of 31 August 2013, which exceeded beyond 294 proposed after attrition. Once participants begin YT or PE they generally complete the protocol. No injuries have been reported.
Short term YT is feasible and acceptable to Indian SZ patients. If beneficial effects of YT are detected, it will provide a novel adjunctive cognitive remediation strategy for SZ patients.
The aim of the current study is to determine whether serum levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and interleukin-2 (IL-2) can be biological indicators for the diagnosis of schizophrenia in patients with depressive symptoms.
Forty-seven patients (11 patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, 16 patients diagnosed with schizophrenia and comorbid depression and 20 patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder) and 20 healthy subjects were enrolled. The Positive and Negative Symptoms Scale, the Calgary Depression Scale for Schizophrenia and the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale were used for assessment. The serum BDNF and IL-2 levels of all the subjects were studied.
Decreased levels of serum BDNF and increased levels of serum IL-2 were found in the patients diagnosed with either schizophrenia, schizophrenia with depression, or major depressive disorder (p = 0.049, p = 0.010; p = 0.001 and p = 0.044; p = 0.027, p = 0.003; respectively) compared with control group. There were no significant differences between the patient groups in their serum BDNF and IL-2 levels.
The present study suggests that neurotrophic factors and immune system changes are involved in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia with or without depressive symptomatology. However, the data do not clarify whether depressive symptoms in schizophrenia occur as a dimension of schizophrenia or as symptoms of major depression that is comorbid with schizophrenia.
To evaluate the safety (primary objective) and efficacy (secondary objective) of (−)-OSU6162 in Huntington’s disease (HD).
In a double-blind, cross-over trial, patients with HD were randomly assigned to start treatment on either (−)-OSU6162 or placebo. After 4 weeks, those patients who initially received active drug were switched to placebo for another 4 weeks, and vice versa. During the first week the (−)-OSU6162 dose was 15 mg twice daily, during the second week 30 mg twice daily, and during the last 2 weeks 45 mg twice daily. Motor, cognitive, mental and social functions were rated by the clinical investigator or by self-assessment, using established rating scales.
Fifteen patients fulfilling inclusion and exclusion criteria completed the study. (−)-OSU6162 was well tolerated by all patients and no adverse effects were observed. (−)-OSU6162 treatment significantly improved the Short Form 36 Vitality score, mainly due to an improvement of the individual item ‘worn-out’ (VT3). In addition, an improvement of depressive symptoms was found using Beck Depression Inventory. In contrast to a general trend of improvement in several non-motor variables only small and non-significant differences between (−)-OSU6162 and placebo were found regarding motor functions.
(−)-OSU6162 offers promise for the treatment of HD, as a drug with good tolerability, capable of improving the patients’ experienced non-motor functions such as energy and mood and thus alleviating symptoms of great importance for their quality of life.
Gabapentin, a third-generation antiepileptic drug, is a structural analogue of γ-aminobutyric acid, which is an important mediator of central nervous system. There is clinical data indicating its effectiveness in the treatment of psychiatric illnesses such as bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders.
We aimed to investigate the antidepressant and anxiolytic-like effects and mechanisms of gabapentin in rats.
Material and Methods
Female Spraque–Dawley rats weighing 250±20 g were used. A total of 13 groups were formed, each containing 8 rats: gabapentin (5, 10, 20, 40 mg/kg), amitriptyline (10 mg/kg), sertraline (5 mg/kg), diazepam (5 mg/kg), ketamine (10 mg/kg), gabapentin 20 mg/kg was also combined with amitriptyline (10 mg/kg), sertraline (5 mg/kg), diazepam (5 mg/kg) and ketamine (10 mg/kg). All the drugs were used intraperitoneally as single dose. Saline was administered to the control group. Elevated plus maze and forced swimming tests were used as experimental models of anxiety and depression, respectively.
It was observed that gabapentin showed an anxiolytic-like and antidepressant-like effect in all doses in rats. Its antidepressant effect was found to be the same as the antidepressant effects of amitriptyline and sertraline. There was no change in the antidepressant effect when gabapentin was combined with amitriptyline and ketamine, but there was an increase when combined with sertraline and diazepam. Gabapentin and amitriptyline showed similar anxiolytic effect, whereas ketamine and diazepam had more potent anxiolytic effect compared with them.
These data suggest that gabapentin may possess antidepressant- and anxiolytic-like effects.
Evidence for a possible association between a low level of cholesterol and increased suicidal behaviour has accumulated in the recent 3 decades. The present study investigates whether lipid levels can make state-dependent markers of suicidal behaviour in Polish patients with mood disorder recently admitted to a psychiatric hospital owing to an acute depressive episode.
Materials and methods
The study was conducted on 223 patients (73 male and 150 female) with unipolar (n=171) and bipolar (n=52) depression. They were interviewed to assess any occurrence of suicidal thoughts, suicidal tendencies and/or suicidal attempts during the 3 months before admission. Laboratory measurements [total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, triglycerides and total lipids] were obtained within 24–72 h after hospital admission.
Suicidal thoughts, tendencies, and attempts were associated with low total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and total lipids in both male and female patients, in both diagnostic categories. Triglycerides were significantly lower in male and female patients with suicidal thoughts compared with their non-suicidal counterparts. No association with suicidality was found with HDL cholesterol.
The results of our study support a majority of research showing the association in depressed patients between suicidal behaviour and low levels of total and LDL cholesterol. In addition, the data suggest a similar association with low total lipids, and in some instances, with low triglycerides.
To present the pilot study on the European Portuguese validation of the Confusion Assessment Method (CAM).
The translation process was carried out according to International Society Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research guidelines with trained researchers and inter-rater reliability assessment. The study included 50 elderly patients, admitted (≥24 h) to two intermediate care units. Exclusion criteria were: Glasgow Coma Scale (total score ≤11), blindness/deafness, inability to communicate and not able to speak Portuguese. The sensitivity and specificity of CAM were assessed, with DSM-IV-TR criteria of delirium used as a reference standard.