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Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSDs), although conceptualized as separate entities, may share some clinical and neurobiological features. ASD symptoms may have a relevant role in determining a more severe clinical presentation of schizophrenic disorder but their relationships with cognitive aspects and functional outcomes of the disease remain to be addressed in large samples of individuals.
To investigate the clinical, cognitive, and functional correlates of ASD symptoms in a large sample of people diagnosed with schizophrenia.
The severity of ASD symptoms was measured with the PANSS Autism Severity Scale (PAUSS) in 921 individuals recruited for the Italian Network for Research on Psychoses multicenter study. Based on the PAUSS scores, three groups of subjects were compared on a wide array of cognitive and functional measures.
Subjects with more severe ASD symptoms showed a poorer performance in the processing speed (p = 0.010), attention (p = 0.011), verbal memory (p = 0.035), and social cognition (p = 0.001) domains, and an overall lower global cognitive composite score (p = 0.010). Subjects with more severe ASD symptoms also showed poorer functional capacity (p = 0.004), real-world interpersonal relationships (p < 0.001), and participation in community-living activities (p < 0.001).
These findings strengthen the notion that ASD symptoms may have a relevant impact on different aspects of the disease, crucial to the life of people with schizophrenia. Prominent ASD symptoms may characterize a specific subpopulation of individuals with SSD.
Comparisons of antipsychotics with placebo can be biased by unblinding due to side effects. Therefore, this meta-analysis compared the efficacy of antipsychotics for acute schizophrenia in trials using barbiturates or benzodiazepines as active placebos.
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in acute schizophrenia with at least 3 weeks duration and comparing any antipsychotic with barbiturates or benzodiazepines were eligible. ClinicalTrials.gov, CENTRAL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, PubMed, WHO-ICTRP as well as previous reviews were searched up to 9 January 2018. Two separate meta-analyses, one for barbiturates and one for benzodiazepines, were conducted using random-effects models. The primary outcome was response to treatment, and mean values of schizophrenia rating scales and dropouts were analyzed as secondary outcomes. This study is registered with PROSPERO (CRD42018086263).
Seven barbiturate-RCTs (number of participants n = 1736), and two benzodiazepine-RCTs (n = 76) were included in the analysis. The studies were published between 1960 and 1968 and involved mainly chronically ill patients. More patients on antipsychotics in comparison to barbiturates achieved a ‘good’ response (36.2% v. 16.8%; RR 2.15; 95% CI 1.36–3.41; I2 = 48.9) and ‘any’ response (57.4% v. 27.8%; RR 2.07; 95% CI 1.35–3.18; I2 = 68.2). In a single small trial (n = 60), there was no difference between antipsychotics and benzodiazepines on ‘any’ response (74.7% v. 65%; RR 1.15; 95% CI 0.82–1.62).
Antipsychotic drugs were more efficacious than barbiturates, based on a large sample size. Response ratios were similar to those observed in placebo-controlled trials. The results on benzodiazepines were inconclusive due to the small number of studies and participants.
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