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Daily use of high-potency cannabis has been reported to carry a high risk for developing a psychotic disorder. However, the evidence is mixed on whether any pattern of cannabis use is associated with a particular symptomatology in first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients.
We analysed data from 901 FEP patients and 1235 controls recruited across six countries, as part of the European Network of National Schizophrenia Networks Studying Gene-Environment Interactions (EU-GEI) study. We used item response modelling to estimate two bifactor models, which included general and specific dimensions of psychotic symptoms in patients and psychotic experiences in controls. The associations between these dimensions and cannabis use were evaluated using linear mixed-effects models analyses.
In patients, there was a linear relationship between the positive symptom dimension and the extent of lifetime exposure to cannabis, with daily users of high-potency cannabis having the highest score (B = 0.35; 95% CI 0.14–0.56). Moreover, negative symptoms were more common among patients who never used cannabis compared with those with any pattern of use (B = −0.22; 95% CI −0.37 to −0.07). In controls, psychotic experiences were associated with current use of cannabis but not with the extent of lifetime use. Neither patients nor controls presented differences in depressive dimension related to cannabis use.
Our findings provide the first large-scale evidence that FEP patients with a history of daily use of high-potency cannabis present with more positive and less negative symptoms, compared with those who never used cannabis or used low-potency types.
The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is an open access telescope dedicated to studying the low-frequency (80–300 MHz) southern sky. Since beginning operations in mid-2013, the MWA has opened a new observational window in the southern hemisphere enabling many science areas. The driving science objectives of the original design were to observe 21 cm radiation from the Epoch of Reionisation (EoR), explore the radio time domain, perform Galactic and extragalactic surveys, and monitor solar, heliospheric, and ionospheric phenomena. All together
programs recorded 20 000 h producing 146 papers to date. In 2016, the telescope underwent a major upgrade resulting in alternating compact and extended configurations. Other upgrades, including digital back-ends and a rapid-response triggering system, have been developed since the original array was commissioned. In this paper, we review the major results from the prior operation of the MWA and then discuss the new science paths enabled by the improved capabilities. We group these science opportunities by the four original science themes but also include ideas for directions outside these categories.
We present a model to map the 3D distribution of dust in the Milky Way. Although dust is just a tiny fraction of what comprises the Galaxy, it plays an important role in various processes. In recent years various maps of dust extinction have been produced, but we still lack a good knowledge of the dust distribution. Our presented approach leverages line-of-sight extinctions towards stars in the Galaxy at measured distances. Since extinction is proportional to the integral of the dust density towards a given star, it is possible to reconstruct the 3D distribution of dust by combining many lines-of-sight in a model accounting for the spatial correlation of the dust. Such a technique can be used to infer the most probable 3D distribution of dust in the Galaxy even in regions which have not been observed. This contribution provides one of the first maps which does not show the “fingers of God” effect. Furthermore, we show that expected high precision measurements of distances and extinctions offer the possibility of mapping the spiral arms in the Galaxy.
A lack of an aetiologically based nosology classification has contributed to instability in psychiatric diagnoses over time. This study aimed to examine the diagnostic stability of psychosis diagnoses using data from an incidence sample of psychosis cases, followed up after 10 years and to examine those baseline variables which were associated with diagnostic change.
Data were examined from the ÆSOP and ÆSOP-10 studies, an incidence and follow-up study, respectively, of a population-based cohort of first-episode psychosis cases from two sites. Diagnosis was assigned using ICD-10 and DSM-IV-TR. Diagnostic change was examined using prospective and retrospective consistency. Baseline variables associated with change were examined using logistic regression and likelihood ratio tests.
Slightly more (59.6%) cases had the same baseline and lifetime ICD-10 diagnosis compared with DSM-IV-TR (55.3%), but prospective and retrospective consistency was similar. Schizophrenia, psychotic bipolar disorder and drug-induced psychosis were more prospectively consistent than other diagnoses. A substantial number of cases with other diagnoses at baseline (ICD-10, n = 61; DSM-IV-TR, n = 76) were classified as having schizophrenia at 10 years. Many variables were associated with change to schizophrenia but few with overall change in diagnosis.
Diagnoses other than schizophrenia should to be regarded as potentially provisional.
Human salmonellosis linked to contact with live poultry is an increasing public health concern. In 2012, eight unrelated outbreaks of human salmonellosis linked to live poultry contact resulted in 517 illnesses. In July 2012, PulseNet, a national molecular surveillance network, reported a multistate cluster of a rare strain of Salmonella Braenderup infections which we investigated. We defined a case as infection with the outbreak strain, determined by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, with illness onset from 25 July 2012–27 February 2013. Ill persons and mail-order hatchery (MOH) owners were interviewed using standardized questionnaires. Traceback and environmental investigations were conducted. We identified 48 cases in 24 states. Twenty-six (81%) of 32 ill persons reported live poultry contact in the week before illness; case-patients named 12 different MOHs from eight states. The investigation identified hatchery D as the ultimate poultry source. Sampling at hatchery D yielded the outbreak strain. Hatchery D improved sanitation procedures and pest control; subsequent sampling failed to yield Salmonella. This outbreak highlights the interconnectedness of humans, animals, and the environment and the importance of industry knowledge and involvement in solving complex outbreaks. Preventing these infections requires a ‘One Health’ approach that leverages expertise in human, animal, and environmental health.
Knowledge of mechanisms of infection in vulnerable populations is needed in order to prepare for future outbreaks. Here, using a unique dataset collected during a 2009 outbreak of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 in a university town, we evaluated mechanisms of infection and identified that an epidemiological model containing partial protection of susceptibles best describes H1N1 dynamics in a rural university environment. We found that the protected group was over 14 times less susceptible to H1N1 infection than unprotected susceptibles. Our estimates show that the basic reproductive rate, R0, was 5·96 (95% confidence interval 5·83–6·61), and, importantly, R0 could be decreased to below 1 and similar epidemics could be avoided by increasing the proportion of the initial protected group. Moreover, several weeks into the epidemic, this protected group generated more new infections than the unprotected susceptible group, and thus, such protected groups should be taken into account while studying influenza epidemics in similar settings.
Studies of the long-term course and outcome of psychoses tend to focus on cohorts of prevalent cases. Such studies bias samples towards those with poor outcomes, which may distort our understanding of prognosis. Long-term follow-up studies of epidemiologically robust first-episode samples are rare.
AESOP-10 is a 10-year follow-up study of 557 individuals with a first episode of psychosis initially identified in two areas in the UK (South East London and Nottingham). Detailed information was collated on course and outcome in three domains (clinical, social and service use) from case records, informants and follow-up interviews.
At follow-up, of 532 incident cases identified, at baseline 37 (7%) had died, 29 (6%) had emigrated and eight (2%) were excluded. Of the remaining 458, 412 (90%) were traced and some information on follow-up was collated for 387 (85%). Most cases (265, 77%) experienced at least one period of sustained remission; at follow-up, 141 (46%) had been symptom free for at least 2 years. A majority (208, 72%) of cases had been employed for less than 25% of the follow-up period. The median number of hospital admissions, including at first presentation, was 2 [interquartile range (IQR) 1–4]; a majority (299, 88%) were admitted a least once and a minority (21, 6%) had 10 or more admissions. Overall, outcomes were worse for those with a non-affective diagnosis, for men and for those from South East London.
Sustained periods of symptom remission are usual following first presentation to mental health services for psychosis, including for those with a non-affective disorder; almost half recover.
The Millimetre Astronomy Legacy Team 90 GHz (MALT90) survey aims to characterise the physical and chemical evolution of high-mass star-forming clumps. Exploiting the unique broad frequency range and on-the-fly mapping capabilities of the Australia Telescope National Facility Mopra 22 m single-dish telescope1, MALT90 has obtained 3′ × 3′ maps towards ~2 000 dense molecular clumps identified in the ATLASGAL 870 μm Galactic plane survey. The clumps were selected to host the early stages of high-mass star formation and to span the complete range in their evolutionary states (from prestellar, to protostellar, and on to
regions and photodissociation regions). Because MALT90 mapped 16 lines simultaneously with excellent spatial (38 arcsec) and spectral (0.11 km s−1) resolution, the data reveal a wealth of information about the clumps’ morphologies, chemistry, and kinematics. In this paper we outline the survey strategy, observing mode, data reduction procedure, and highlight some early science results. All MALT90 raw and processed data products are available to the community. With its unprecedented large sample of clumps, MALT90 is the largest survey of its type ever conducted and an excellent resource for identifying interesting candidates for high-resolution studies with ALMA.
Hippocampal pathology has been proposed to underlie clinical, functional and cognitive impairments in schizophrenia. The hippocampus is a highly plastic brain region; examining change in volume, or change bilaterally, over time, can advance understanding of the substrate of recovery in psychosis.
Magnetic resonance imaging and outcome data were collected at baseline and 6-year follow-up in 42 first-episode psychosis subjects and 32 matched controls, to investigate whether poorer outcomes are associated with loss of global matter and hippocampal volumes. Bilateral hippocampal increase (BHI) over time, as a marker of hippocampal plasticity was hypothesized to be associated with better outcomes. Regression analyses were performed on: (i) clinical and functional outcomes with grey matter volume change and BHI as predictor variables; and (ii) cognitive outcome with BHI as predictor.
BHI was present in 29% of psychosis participants. There was no significant grey matter loss over time in either patient or control groups. Less severe illness course and lesser symptom severity were associated with BHI, but not with grey matter change. Employment and global function were associated with BHI and with less grey matter loss. Superior delayed verbal recall was also associated with BHI.
BHI occurs in a minority of patients following their first psychotic episode and is associated with good outcome across clinical, functional and cognitive domains.
There is evidence that a range of socio-environmental exposures is associated with an increased risk of psychosis. However, despite the fact that such factors probably combine in complex ways to increase risk, the majority of studies have tended to consider each exposure separately. In light of this, we sought to extend previous analyses of data from the AESOP (Aetiology and Ethnicity in Schizophrenia and Other Psychoses) study on childhood and adult markers of disadvantage to examine how they combine to increase risk of psychosis, testing both mediation (path) models and synergistic effects.
All patients with a first episode of psychosis who made contact with psychiatric services in defined catchment areas in London and Nottingham, UK (n = 390) and a series of community controls (n = 391) were included in the AESOP study. Data relating to clinical and social variables, including parental separation and loss, education and adult disadvantage, were collected from cases and controls.
There was evidence that the effect of separation from, but not death of, a parent in childhood on risk of psychosis was partially mediated through subsequent poor educational attainment (no qualifications), adult social disadvantage and, to a lesser degree, low self-esteem. In addition, there was strong evidence that separation from, but not death of, a parent combined synergistically with subsequent disadvantage to increase risk. These effects held for all ethnic groups in the sample.
Exposure to childhood and adult disadvantage may combine in complex ways to push some individuals along a predominantly sociodevelopmental pathway to psychosis.
To date, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has made little impact on the diagnosis and monitoring of psychoses in individual patients. In this study, we used a support vector machine (SVM) whole-brain classification approach to predict future illness course at the individual level from MRI data obtained at the first psychotic episode.
One hundred patients at their first psychotic episode and 91 healthy controls had an MRI scan. Patients were re-evaluated 6.2 years (s.d.=2.3) later, and were classified as having a continuous, episodic or intermediate illness course. Twenty-eight subjects with a continuous course were compared with 28 patients with an episodic course and with 28 healthy controls. We trained each SVM classifier independently for the following contrasts: continuous versus episodic, continuous versus healthy controls, and episodic versus healthy controls.
At baseline, patients with a continuous course were already distinguishable, with significance above chance level, from both patients with an episodic course (p=0.004, sensitivity=71, specificity=68) and healthy individuals (p=0.01, sensitivity=71, specificity=61). Patients with an episodic course could not be distinguished from healthy individuals. When patients with an intermediate outcome were classified according to the discriminating pattern episodic versus continuous, 74% of those who did not develop other episodes were classified as episodic, and 65% of those who did develop further episodes were classified as continuous (p=0.035).
We provide preliminary evidence of MRI application in the individualized prediction of future illness course, using a simple and automated SVM pipeline. When replicated and validated in larger groups, this could enable targeted clinical decisions based on imaging data.
Childhood adversity has been associated with onset of psychosis in adulthood but these studies have used only general definitions of this environmental risk indicator. Therefore, we sought to explore the prevalence of more specific adverse childhood experiences amongst those with and without psychotic disorders using detailed assessments in a large epidemiological case-control sample (AESOP).
Data were collected on 182 first-presentation psychosis cases and 246 geographically matched controls in two UK centres. Information relating to the timing and frequency of exposure to different types of childhood adversity (neglect, antipathy, physical and sexual abuse, local authority care, disrupted living arrangements and lack of supportive figure) was obtained using the Childhood Experience of Care and Abuse Questionnaire.
Psychosis cases were three times more likely to report severe physical abuse from the mother that commenced prior to 12 years of age, even after adjustment for other significant forms of adversity and demographic confounders. A non-significant trend was also evident for greater prevalence of reported severe maternal antipathy amongst those with psychosis. Associations with maternal neglect and childhood sexual abuse disappeared after adjusting for maternal physical abuse and antipathy. Paternal maltreatment and other forms of adversity were not associated with psychosis nor was there evidence of a dose–response effect.
These findings suggest that only specific adverse childhood experiences are associated with psychotic disorders and only in a minority of cases. If replicated, this greater precision will ensure that research into the mechanisms underlying the pathway from childhood adversity to psychosis is more fruitful.
Numerous studies have reported high rates of psychosis in the Black Caribbean population in the UK. Recent speculation about the reasons for these high rates has focused on social factors. However, there have been few empirical studies. We sought to compare the prevalence of specific indicators of social disadvantage and isolation, and variations by ethnicity, in subjects with a first episode of psychosis and a series of healthy controls.
All cases with a first episode of psychosis who made contact with psychiatric services in defined catchment areas in London and Nottingham, UK and a series of community controls were recruited over a 3-year period. Data relating to clinical and social variables were collected from cases and controls.
On all indicators, cases were more socially disadvantaged and isolated than controls, after controlling for potential confounders. These associations held when the sample was restricted to those with an affective diagnosis and to those with a short prodrome and short duration of untreated psychosis. There was a clear linear relationship between concentrated disadvantage and odds of psychosis. Similar patterns were evident in the two main ethnic groups, White British and Black Caribbean. However, indicators of social disadvantage and isolation were more common in Black Caribbean subjects than White British subjects.
We found strong associations between indicators of disadvantage and psychosis. If these variables index exposure to factors that increase risk of psychosis, their greater prevalence in the Black Caribbean population may contribute to the reported high rates of psychosis in this population.
An increased prevalence of minor physical anomalies (MPAs) has been extensively documented in schizophrenia but their specificity for the disorder remains unclear. We investigated the prevalence and the predictive power of MPAs in a large sample of first-episode psychotic patients across a range of diagnoses.
MPAs were examined in 242 subjects with first-episode psychosis (50% schizophrenia, 45% affective psychosis and 5% substance-induced psychosis) and 158 healthy controls. Categorical principal components analysis and analysis of variance were undertaken, and individual items with the highest loading were tested using the χ2 test.
Overall facial asymmetry, assymetry of the orbital landmarks, and frankfurt horizontal significantly differentiated patients with schizophrenia and affective psychosis from controls, as did a ‘V-shaped’ palate, reduced palatal ridges, abnormality of the left ear surface and the shape of the left and right ears. Patients with affective psychosis had significantly lowered eye fissures compared with control subjects.
MPAs are not specific to schizophrenia, suggesting a common developmental pathway for non-affective and affective psychoses. The topographical distribution of MPAs in this study is suggestive of an insult occurring during organogenesis in the first trimester of pregnancy.