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Poor response to dopaminergic antipsychotics constitutes a major challenge in the treatment of psychotic disorders and markers for non-response during first-episode are warranted. Previous studies have found increased levels of glutamate and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in non-responding first-episode patients compared to responders, but it is unknown if non-responders can be identified using reference levels from healthy controls (HCs).
Thirty-nine antipsychotic-naïve patients with first-episode psychosis and 36 matched HCs underwent repeated assessments with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale and 3T magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Glutamate scaled to total creatine (/Cr) was measured in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and left thalamus, and levels of GABA/Cr were measured in ACC. After 6 weeks, we re-examined 32 patients on aripiprazole monotherapy and 35 HCs, and after 26 weeks we re-examined 30 patients on naturalistic antipsychotic treatment and 32 HCs. The Andreasen criteria defined non-response.
Before treatment, thalamic glutamate/Cr was higher in the whole group of patients but levels normalized after treatment. ACC levels of glutamate/Cr and GABA/Cr were lower at all assessments and unaffected by treatment. When compared with HCs, non-responders at week 6 (19 patients) and week 26 (16 patients) had higher baseline glutamate/Cr in the thalamus. Moreover, non-responders at 26 weeks had lower baseline GABA/Cr in ACC. Baseline levels in responders and HCs did not differ.
Glutamatergic and GABAergic abnormalities in antipsychotic-naïve patients appear driven by non-responders to antipsychotic treatment. If replicated, normative reference levels for glutamate and GABA may aid estimation of clinical prognosis in first-episode psychosis patients.
Individuals at ultra-high-risk (UHR) for psychosis present with emerging symptoms and decline in functioning. Previous univariate analyses have indicated widespread white matter (WM) aberrations in multiple brain regions in UHR individuals and patients with schizophrenia. Using multivariate statistics, we investigated whole brain WM microstructure and associations between WM, clinical symptoms, and level of functioning in UHR individuals.
Forty-five UHR individuals and 45 matched healthy controls (HCs) underwent magnetic resonance diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) at 3 Tesla. UHR individuals were assessed with the Comprehensive Assessment of At-Risk Mental States, Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms, and Social and Occupational Functioning Assessment Scale. Partial least-squares correlation analysis (PLSC) was used as statistical method.
PLSC group comparisons revealed one significant latent variable (LV) accounting for 52% of the cross-block covariance. This LV indicated a pattern of lower fractional anisotropy (FA), axial diffusivity (AD), and mode of anisotropy (MO) concomitant with higher radial diffusivity (RD) in widespread brain regions in UHR individuals compared with HCs. Within UHR individuals, PLSC revealed five significant LVs associated with symptoms and level of functioning. The first LV accounted for 31% of the cross-block covariance and indicated a pattern where higher symptom score and lower level of functioning correlated to lower FA, AD, MO, and higher RD.
UHR individuals demonstrate complex brain patterns of WM abnormalities. Despite the subtle psychopathology of UHR individuals, aberrations in WM appear associated with positive and negative symptoms as well as level of functioning.
Attention deficits have been frequently reported in schizophrenia. It has been suggested that treatment with second-generation antipsychotics can ameliorate these deficits. In this study, the influence of 6 months treatment with quetiapine, a compound with less affinity for dopamine D2 receptors than for serotonergic 5-HT2A receptors, on electrophysiological parameters of attention was investigated in a group of antipsychotic-naïve, first-episode schizophrenia patients compared with a group of age- and gender-matched healthy controls.
A total of 34 first-episode, antipsychotic-naïve patients with schizophrenia and an equal number of healthy controls were tested in a selective attention and a typical mismatch negativity (MMN) paradigm at baseline and after 6 months. The patients were treated with quetiapine according to their clinical needs during the period between baseline and follow-up, whereas controls received no treatment.
Patients showed lower MMN and P200 amplitude than healthy controls in the selective attention paradigm at baseline, while this was not the case for MMN of the typical MMN paradigm. Interestingly, after 6 months treatment, this MMN deficit was only ameliorated in patients treated with above median dosages of quetiapine. Patients had lower P3B amplitude, yet showed similar levels of processing negativity and N100 amplitude compared with healthy controls, both at baseline and follow-up.
The results indicate that deficits in MMN, P200 and P3B amplitude are present at early stages of schizophrenia, although depending on the paradigm used. Furthermore, the results indicate that 6 months quetiapine treatment ameliorates MMN but not P3B deficits, and only in those subjects on higher dosages.
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