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Recent literature suggests that over 70% of cases of antibody-mediated encephalitis present to psychiatry services with features of psychosis predominantly.
To investigate the seroprevalence of N-Methyl-D-Aspartate receptor antibodies (NMDAr-Ab) in patients with first episode psychosis (FEP)
Following ethical approval, all cases meeting entry criteria were invited to participate. Participants were interviewed with SCID to obtain a DSM diagnosis. NMDAr-Ab were identified in serum by cell based assay using co-transfected Human Embryonic Kidney (HEK)cells. Positive cases were reviewed by clinical neurology. Decision to treat with immunotherapy was made on a case by case basis.
85/115 (72%) of patients with FEP entered the study. 49 (58%) participants were male, mean age (SD) 37 (15.7) years. 42 (52%) were outpatients at the time of assessment. Four cases (5%) were serum NMDAr-Ab positive. 3 of these cases were male, age 48 (16.3) years. All four were admitted as inpatients with normal brain MRI imaging. One case (female, 55) was confirmed as NMDAr-Ab encephalitis based on case presentation, EEG demonstrating bilateral cerebral dysfunction and NMDAr-Ab in CSF. Immunotherapy treatment lead to clinical improvement. In remaining cases, EEG was normal and CSF negative. All 3 of these cases showed clinical improvement following psychiatric treatment as usual.
Our findings support the current estimates as to NMDAr-Ab prevalence in FEP. Increased awareness has lead to rapid treatment of florid cases of NMDAr-Ab encephalitis in our service. Additional seropositive cases are being followed with neuro-cognitive testing for any evidence of decline.
Cognitive remediation (CR) training has emerged as a promising approach to improving cognitive deficits in schizophrenia and related psychosis. The limited availability of psychological services for psychosis is a major barrier to accessing this intervention however. This study investigated the effectiveness of a low support, remotely accessible, computerised working memory (WM) training programme in patients with psychosis.
Ninety patients were enrolled into a single blind randomised controlled trial of CR. Effectiveness of the intervention was assessed in terms of neuropsychological performance, social and occupational function, and functional MRI 2 weeks post-intervention, with neuropsychological and social function again assessed 3–6 months post-treatment.
Patients who completed the intervention showed significant gains in both neuropsychological function (measured using both untrained WM and episodic task performance, and a measure of performance IQ), and social function at both 2-week follow-up and 3–6-month follow-up timepoints. Furthermore, patients who completed MRI scanning showed improved resting state functional connectivity relative to patients in the placebo condition.
CR training has already been shown to improve cognitive and social function in patient with psychosis. This study demonstrates that, at least for some chronic but stable outpatients, a low support treatment was associated with gains that were comparable with those reported for CR delivered entirely on a 1:1 basis. We conclude that CR has potential to be delivered even in services in which psychological supports for patients with psychosis are limited.