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Functional impairment is a defining feature of psychotic disorders. A range of factors has been shown to influence functioning, including negative symptoms, cognitive performance and cognitive reserve (CR). However, it is not clear how these variables may affect functioning in first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients. This 2-year follow-up study aimed to explore the possible mediating effects of CR on the relationship between cognitive performance or specific clinical symptoms and functional outcome.
A prospective study of non-affective FEP patients was performed (211 at baseline and 139 at follow-up). CR was entered in a path analysis model as potential mediators between cognitive domains or clinical symptoms and functioning.
At baseline, the relationship between clinical variables or cognitive performance and functioning was not mediated by CR. At follow-up, the effect of attention (p = 0.003) and negative symptoms (p = 0.012) assessed at baseline on functioning was partially mediated by CR (p = 0.032 and 0.016), whereas the relationship between verbal memory (p = 0.057) and functioning was mediated by CR (p = 0.014). Verbal memory and positive and total subscales of PANSS assessed at follow-up were partially mediated by CR and the effect of working memory on functioning was totally mediated by CR.
Our results showed the influence of CR in mediating the relationship between cognitive domains or clinical symptoms and functioning in FEP. In particular, CR partially mediated the relationship between some cognitive domains or clinical symptoms and functioning at follow-up. Therefore, CR could improve our understanding of the long-term functioning of patients with a non-affective FEP.
Motor abnormalities (MAs) are the primary manifestations of schizophrenia. However, the extent to which MAs are related to alterations of subcortical structures remains understudied.
We aimed to investigate the associations of MAs and basal ganglia abnormalities in first-episode psychosis (FEP) and healthy controls. Magnetic resonance imaging was performed on 48 right-handed FEP and 23 age-, gender-, handedness-, and educational attainment-matched controls, to obtain basal ganglia shape analysis, diffusion tensor imaging techniques (fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity), and relaxometry (R2*) to estimate iron load. A comprehensive motor battery was applied including the assessment of parkinsonism, catatonic signs, and neurological soft signs (NSS). A fully automated model-based segmentation algorithm on 1.5T MRI anatomical images and accurate corregistration of diffusion and T2* volumes and R2* was used.
FEP patients showed significant local atrophic changes in left globus pallidus nucleus regarding controls. Hypertrophic changes in left-side caudate were associated with higher scores in sensory integration, and in right accumbens with tremor subscale. FEP patients showed lower fractional anisotropy measures than controls but no significant differences regarding mean diffusivity and iron load of basal ganglia. However, iron load in left basal ganglia and right accumbens correlated significantly with higher extrapyramidal and motor coordination signs in FEP patients.
Taken together, iron load in left basal ganglia may have a role in the emergence of extrapyramidal signs and NSS of FEP patients and in consequence in the pathophysiology of psychosis.
We present the findings from the three-year follow-up of all first episodes of schizophrenia occurring during a two-year period in Cantabria (in Spain).
(a) To describe the clinical characteristics of the illness from the early stages of the disease, and (b) to study the long-term psychosocial adjustment and psychopathological evolution of these patients, identifying predictors for the course of the illness.
Of the original cohort of 86 patients, 76 (88.3%) were fully evaluated at three-year follow-up. Psychiatric assessment was performed (PSE–9 and SANS/SAPS). Social adjustment was evaluated using the Disability Assessment Schedule (DAS). Information regarding the clinical evolution and use of health resources was also gathered.
The majority of patients with a first-contact diagnosis of schizophrenia failed to meet the criteria for a CATEGO diagnosis at follow-up. The SANS/SAPS assessments revealed a doubling in the proportion of patients with ‘negative schizophrenia’. The pattern of clinical course was also evaluated, with 24 (31.5%) of the patients having a good outcome. Being male and having low social class tended to be associated with poor clinical outcome.
The outcome of schizophrenia is less pessimistic than was originally thought.
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