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Our understanding of the complex relationship between schizophrenia symptomatology and etiological factors can be improved by studying brain-based correlates of schizophrenia. Research showed that impairments in value processing and executive functioning, which have been associated with prefrontal brain areas [particularly the medial orbitofrontal cortex (MOFC)], are linked to negative symptoms. Here we tested the hypothesis that MOFC thickness is associated with negative symptom severity.
This study included 1985 individuals with schizophrenia from 17 research groups around the world contributing to the ENIGMA Schizophrenia Working Group. Cortical thickness values were obtained from T1-weighted structural brain scans using FreeSurfer. A meta-analysis across sites was conducted over effect sizes from a model predicting cortical thickness by negative symptom score (harmonized Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms or Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale scores).
Meta-analytical results showed that left, but not right, MOFC thickness was significantly associated with negative symptom severity (βstd = −0.075; p = 0.019) after accounting for age, gender, and site. This effect remained significant (p = 0.036) in a model including overall illness severity. Covarying for duration of illness, age of onset, antipsychotic medication or handedness weakened the association of negative symptoms with left MOFC thickness. As part of a secondary analysis including 10 other prefrontal regions further associations in the left lateral orbitofrontal gyrus and pars opercularis emerged.
Using an unusually large cohort and a meta-analytical approach, our findings point towards a link between prefrontal thinning and negative symptom severity in schizophrenia. This finding provides further insight into the relationship between structural brain abnormalities and negative symptoms in schizophrenia.
The contribution of ‘environment’ has been investigated across diverse and multiple domains related to health. However, in the context of large-scale genomic studies the focus has been on obtaining individual-level endophenotypes with environment left for future decomposition. Geo-social research has indicated that environment-level variables can be reduced, and these composites can then be used with other variables as intuitive, precise representations of environment in research.
Using a large community sample (N = 9498) from the Philadelphia area, participant addresses were linked to 2010 census and crime data. These were then factor analyzed (exploratory factor analysis; EFA) to arrive at social and criminal dimensions of participants' environments. These were used to calculate environment-level scores, which were merged with individual-level variables. We estimated an exploratory multilevel structural equation model (MSEM) exploring associations among environment- and individual-level variables in diverse communities.
The EFAs revealed that census data was best represented by two factors, one socioeconomic status and one household/language. Crime data was best represented by a single crime factor. The MSEM variables had good fit (e.g. comparative fit index = 0.98), and revealed that environment had the largest association with neurocognitive performance (β = 0.41, p < 0.0005), followed by parent education (β = 0.23, p < 0.0005).
Environment-level variables can be combined to create factor scores or composites for use in larger statistical models. Our results are consistent with literature indicating that individual-level socio-demographic characteristics (e.g. race and gender) and aspects of familial social capital (e.g. parental education) have statistical relationships with neurocognitive performance.
Substantial weight gain is common with many atypical antipsychotics.
To evaluate the extent, time course and predictors of weight gain and its effect on study retention among people with first-episode psychosis treated with olanzapine or haloperidol.
Survival analysis assessed time to potentially clinically significant weight gain (⩾7%) and the effect of weight gain on study retention. Weight gain during the 2-year study was summarised using last-observation-carried-forward (LOCF), observed cases and study completion approaches.
After 2 years of treatment, LOCF mean weight gain was 10.2 kg (s.d.=10.1) for olanzapine (n=131) and 4.0 kg (s.d.=7.3) for haloperidol (n=132); observed cases mean weight gain was 15.4 kg (s.d.=10.0) for olanzapine and 7.5 kg (s.d.=9.2) for haloperidol. Change in body mass index was significantly predicted only by treatment group (P < 0.0001).
Olanzapine was associated with significantly greater weight gain than haloperidol, with both leading to greater weight gain than previously described.
Duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) may contribute to the observed heterogeneity of the treatment response in first-episode schizophrenia.
To examine the relationship of DUP and premorbid function with clinical outcomes following up to 2 years of antipsychotic treatment.
For a subsample (n = 191) of subjects participating in a clinical trial, DUP and premorbid function were prospectively compared with clinical response to olanzapine or haloperidol.
Shorter DUP and good premorbid function each independently are associated with better clinical response, including improvement in overall psychopathology and negative symptoms. Premorbid function also is associated with positive symptom, social and vocational outcomes.
Earlier antipsychotic treatment is associated with better outcomes in first-episode schizophrenia. Poor premorbid function could indicate an illness subtype less likely to respond to antipsychotic treatment regardless of when it is instituted.
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