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We examined longitudinally the course and predictors of treatment resistance in a large cohort of first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients from initiation of antipsychotic treatment. We hypothesized that antipsychotic treatment resistance is: (a) present at illness onset; and (b) differentially associated with clinical and demographic factors.
The study sample comprised 323 FEP patients who were studied at first contact and at 10-year follow-up. We collated clinical information on severity of symptoms, antipsychotic medication and treatment adherence during the follow-up period to determine the presence, course and predictors of treatment resistance.
From the 23% of the patients, who were treatment resistant, 84% were treatment resistant from illness onset. Multivariable regression analysis revealed that diagnosis of schizophrenia, negative symptoms, younger age at onset, and longer duration of untreated psychosis predicted treatment resistance from illness onset.
The striking majority of treatment-resistant patients do not respond to first-line antipsychotic treatment even at time of FEP. Clinicians must be alert to this subgroup of patients and consider clozapine treatment as early as possible during the first presentation of psychosis.
Cannabis is a widely used drug associated with increased risk for psychosis. The dopamine hypothesis of psychosis postulates that altered salience processing leads to psychosis. We therefore tested the hypothesis that cannabis users exhibit aberrant salience and explored the relationship between aberrant salience and dopamine synthesis capacity.
We tested 17 cannabis users and 17 age- and sex-matched non-user controls using the Salience Attribution Test, a probabilistic reward-learning task. Within users, cannabis-induced psychotic symptoms were measured with the Psychotomimetic States Inventory. Dopamine synthesis capacity, indexed as the influx rate constant Kicer, was measured in 10 users and six controls with 3,4-dihydroxy-6-[18F]fluoro-l-phenylalanine positron emission tomography.
There was no significant difference in aberrant salience between the groups [F1,32 = 1.12, p = 0.30 (implicit); F1,32 = 1.09, p = 0.30 (explicit)]. Within users there was a significant positive relationship between cannabis-induced psychotic symptom severity and explicit aberrant salience scores (r = 0.61, p = 0.04) and there was a significant association between cannabis dependency/abuse status and high implicit aberrant salience scores (F1,15 = 5.8, p = 0.03). Within controls, implicit aberrant salience was inversely correlated with whole striatal dopamine synthesis capacity (r = −0.91, p = 0.01), whereas this relationship was non-significant within users (difference between correlations: Z = −2.05, p = 0.04).
Aberrant salience is positively associated with cannabis-induced psychotic symptom severity, but is not seen in cannabis users overall. This is consistent with the hypothesis that the link between cannabis use and psychosis involves alterations in salience processing. Longitudinal studies are needed to determine whether these cognitive abnormalities are pre-existing or caused by long-term cannabis use.
Clozapine remains the only evidence-based antipsychotic for treatment-resistant schizophrenia (TRS). The ability to predict which patients with their first onset of schizophrenia would subsequently meet criteria for treatment resistance (TR) could help to diminish the severe functional disability which may ensue if TR is not recognized and correctly treated.
This is a 5-year longitudinal assessment of clinical outcomes in a cohort of 246 first-episode schizophrenia spectrum patients recruited as part of the NIHR Genetics and Psychosis (GAP) study conducted in South London from 2005 to 2010. We examined the relationship between baseline demographic and clinical measures and the emergence of TR. TR status was determined from a review of electronic case records. We assessed for associations with early-, and late-onset TR, and non-TR, and differences between those TR patients treated with clozapine and those who were not.
Seventy per cent (n = 56) of TR patients, and 23% of the total study population (n = 246) were treatment resistant from illness onset. Those who met criteria for TR during the first 5 years of illness were more likely to have an early age of first contact for psychosis (<20 years) [odds ratio (OR) 2.49, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.25–4.94] compared to those with non-TR. The relationship between an early age of first contact (<20 years) and TR was significant in patients of Black ethnicity (OR 3.71, 95% CI 1.44–9.56); and patients of male gender (OR 3.13 95% CI 1.35–7.23).
For the majority of the TR group, antipsychotic TR is present from illness onset, necessitating increased consideration for the earlier use of clozapine.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic, relapsing mental illness. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors block serotonin transporters (SERTs) and are the mainstay of treatment for OCD. SERT abnormalities are reported in drug-free patients with OCD, but it is not known what happens to SERT levels during treatment. This is important as alterations in SERT levels in patients under treatment could underlie poor response, or relapse during or after treatment. The aim of the present study was first to validate a novel approach to measuring SERT levels in people taking treatment and then to investigate SERT binding potential (BP) using [11C]DASB PET in patients with OCD currently treated with escitalopram in comparison with healthy controls.
Twelve patients and age- and sex-matched healthy controls were enrolled. The patients and healthy controls underwent serial PET scans after administration of escitalopram and blood samples for drug concentrations were collected simultaneously with the scans. Drug-free BPs were obtained by using an inhibitory Emax model we developed previously.
The inhibitory Emax model was able to accurately predict drug-free SERT BP in people taking drug treatment. The drug-free BP in patients with OCD currently treated with escitalopram was significantly different from those in healthy volunteers [Cohen's d = 0.03 (caudate), 1.16 (putamen), 1.46 (thalamus), −5.67 (dorsal raphe nucleus)].
This result extends previous findings showing SERT abnormalities in drug-free patients with OCD by indicating that altered SERT availability is seen in OCD despite treatment. This could account for poor response and the high risk of relapse in OCD.
Cannabis use is associated with an increased risk of developing a psychotic disorder but the temporal relationship between cannabis use and onset of illness is unclear. The objective of this study was to assess prospectively the influence of cannabis use on transition to psychosis in people at ultra-high risk (UHR) for the disorder.
Lifetime and continued cannabis use was assessed in a consecutively ascertained sample of 182 people (104 male, 78 female) at UHR for psychosis. Individuals were then followed clinically for 2 years to determine their clinical outcomes.
Lifetime cannabis use was reported by 134 individuals (73.6%). However, most of these individuals had stopped using cannabis before clinical presentation (n = 98, 73.1%), usually because of adverse effects. Among lifetime users, frequent use, early-onset use and continued use after presentation were all associated with an increase in transition to psychosis. Transition to psychosis was highest among those who started using cannabis before the age of 15 years and went on to use frequently (frequent early-onset use: 25%; infrequent or late-onset use: 5%; χ21 = 10.971, p = 0.001). However, within the whole sample, cannabis users were no more likely to develop psychosis than those who had never used cannabis (cannabis use: 12.7%; no use: 18.8%; χ21 = 1.061, p = 0.303).
In people at UHR for psychosis, lifetime cannabis use was common but not related to outcome. Among cannabis users, frequent use, early-onset use and continued use after clinical presentation were associated with transition to psychosis.
Elevated striatal dopamine synthesis capacity is thought to be fundamental to the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and has also been reported in people at risk of psychosis. It is therefore unclear if striatal hyperdopaminergia is a vulnerability marker for schizophrenia, or a state feature related to the psychosis itself. Relatives of patients with schizophrenia are themselves at increased risk of developing the condition. In this study we examined striatal dopamine synthesis capacity in both members of twin pairs discordant for schizophrenia.
In vivo striatal dopamine synthesis capacity was examined using fluorine-18-l-dihydroxyphenylalanine (18F-DOPA) positron emission tomography (PET) scans in seven twin pairs discordant for schizophrenia and in a control sample of 10 healthy control twin pairs.
Striatal 18F-DOPA uptake was not elevated in the unaffected co-twins of patients with schizophrenia (p=0.65) or indeed in the twins with schizophrenia (p=0.89) compared to the control group. Levels of psychotic symptoms were low in the patients with schizophrenia who were in general stable [mean (s.d.) Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) total=56.8 (25.5)] whereas the unaffected co-twins were largely asymptomatic.
Striatal dopamine synthesis capacity is not elevated in symptom-free individuals at genetic risk of schizophrenia, or in well-treated stable patients with chronic schizophrenia. These findings suggest that striatal hyperdopaminergia is not a vulnerability marker for schizophrenia.
Identifying prodromal features that predate the onset of bipolar disorder (BD) may enable the prevention of BD and aid early intervention. This review addresses two key questions: Is there a bipolar prodrome? And, if there is, what are its characteristic features?
A comprehensive search of databases (PubMed, Medline, EMBASE and PsycINFO) supplemented by hand searches was used to identify studies of symptoms preceding the onset of BD.
Fifty-nine studies were identified, of which 14 met inclusion criteria. Symptoms can predate the onset of BD by months to years and can be categorized as attenuated forms of BD symptoms, general symptoms common to a range of mental disorders, and personality traits, particularly cyclothymia. Two studies provided sufficient data to enable sensitivity and specificity to be calculated. Specificity of several of the features was high (>90%) but sensitivity was generally low (all <60%). We propose a model based on the findings in the studies reviewed to illustrate the potential trajectory to BD and the points at which it may be possible to intervene.
Clinical features preceding the onset of BD can be identified. However, conclusions about whether there is a distinct prodrome to BD are restricted by the limitations of current evidence. The high specificity of some features suggests they may be useful in clinical practice. Large-scale longitudinal studies are needed to validate these features and characterize their specificity and sensitivity in independent samples.
High rates of osteoporosis in schizophrenia may result from the prolactin-raising effects of some antipsychotic medication.
To examine bone mineral density in relation to relevant endocrine variables in patients with schizophrenia taking prolactin-raising antipsychotics.
Fifty-five patients who had been receiving prolactin-raising antipsychotic medication for > 10 years underwent dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry of their lumbar and hip bones. Among the endocrine variables assessed were plasma prolactin and sex hormones.
Age-related reduced bone mineral density measures were found in 17 (57%) of the male and 8 (32%) of the female patients. Higher doses of medication were associated with increased rates of both hyperprolactinaemia and bone mineral density loss. Bone loss for the whole group was correlated with medication dose, and for men was inversely correlated with testosterone values.
These results suggestthat patients with schizophrenia on long-term prolactin-raising antipsychotic medication are at high risk of developing reduced bone mineral density as a consequence of hyperprolactinaemia-induced hypogonadism.
The structure of γ/α interfaces in binary and Ta-containing TiAl alloys were analyzed by HRTEM and image simulations. Growth of α2 was found to be due to a ledge mechanism, consisting of Shockley partial dislocations on alternate (111)γ planes. The interface is atomically flat between the ledges and addition of Ta was found to transform arrays of growth ledges in the binary alloy into islands on the plate faces in the Ta-containing alloy. These islands of α2 on the γ/α2 interfaces were 4–7nm wide and increased in size with decreasing ageing temperature. The height of the ledges and islands were always a multiple of the c-parameter (0.46nm) of the α2 phase. The islands were bounded by 90°(edge) and 30° screw) Shockley partial dislocations. The 30° partial dislocation cores were localized whereas the 90° partial dislocation cores appeared to be highly delocalized due to presence of a high density of kinks, which in one case was found to be about 0.65nm−1.These results are interpreted in terms of the growth mechanisms and morphology of the α2 phase.
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