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Schizophrenia is a highly heritable disorder with undetermined neurobiological causes. Understanding the impact on brain anatomy of carrying genetic risk for the disorder will contribute to uncovering its neurobiological underpinnings.
To examine the effect of rare copy number variants (CNVs) associated with schizophrenia on brain cortical anatomy in a sample of unaffected participants from the UK Biobank.
We used regression analyses to compare cortical thickness and surface area (total and across gyri) between 120 unaffected carriers of rare CNVs associated with schizophrenia and 16 670 participants without any pathogenic CNV. A measure of cortical thickness and surface area covariance across gyri was also compared between groups.
Carrier status was associated with reduced surface area (β = −0.020 mm2, P < 0.001) and less robustly with increased cortical thickness (β = 0.015 mm, P = 0.035), and with increased covariance in thickness (carriers z = 0.31 v. non-carriers z = 0.22, P < 0.0005). Associations were mainly present in frontal and parietal areas and driven by a limited number of rare risk alleles included in our analyses (mainly 15q11.2 deletion for surface area and 16p13.11 duplication for thickness covariance).
Results for surface area conformed with previous clinical findings, supporting surface area reductions as an indicator of genetic liability for schizophrenia. Results for cortical thickness, though, argued against its validity as a potential risk marker. Increased structural thickness covariance across gyri also appears related to risk for schizophrenia. The heterogeneity found across the effects of rare risk alleles suggests potential different neurobiological gateways into schizophrenia's phenotype.
Clozapine is uniquely effective in treatment-resistant psychosis but remains underutilised, partly owing to psychotic symptoms leading to non-adherence to oral medication. An intramuscular formulation is available in the UK but outcomes remain unexplored.
This was a retrospective clinical effectiveness study of intramuscular clozapine prescription for treatment initiation and maintenance in treatment-resistant psychosis over a 3-year period.
Successful initiation of oral clozapine after intramuscular prescription was the primary outcome. Secondary outcomes included all-cause clozapine discontinuation 2 years following initiation, and 1 year after discharge. Discontinuation rates were compared with a cohort prescribed only oral clozapine. Propensity scores were used to address confounding by indication.
Among 39 patients prescribed intramuscular clozapine, 19 received at least one injection, whereas 20 accepted oral clozapine when given an enforced choice between the two. Thirty-six (92%) patients successfully initiated oral clozapine after intramuscular prescription; three never transitioned to oral. Eight discontinued oral clozapine during the 2-year follow-up, compared with 83 out of 162 in the comparator group (discontinuation rates of 24% and 50%, respectively). Discontinuation rates at 1-year post-discharge were 21%, compared with 44% in the comparison group. Intramuscular clozapine prescription was associated with a non-significantly lower hazard of discontinuation 2 years after initiation (hazard ratio 0.39, 95% CI 0.14–1.06) and 1 year after discharge (hazard ratio 0.37, 95% CI 0.11–1.24). The only reported adverse event specific to the intramuscular formulation was injection site pain and swelling.
Intramuscular clozapine prescription allowed transition to oral maintenance in an initially non-adherent cohort. Discontinuation rates were similar to patients only prescribed oral clozapine and comparable to existing literature.
Around 30% of individuals with schizophrenia remain symptomatic and significantly impaired despite antipsychotic treatment and are considered to be treatment resistant. Clinicians are currently unable to predict which patients are at higher risk of treatment resistance.
To determine whether genetic liability for schizophrenia and/or clinical characteristics measurable at illness onset can prospectively indicate a higher risk of treatment-resistant psychosis (TRP).
In 1070 individuals with schizophrenia or related psychotic disorders, schizophrenia polygenic risk scores (PRS) and large copy number variations (CNVs) were assessed for enrichment in TRP. Regression and machine-learning approaches were used to investigate the association of phenotypes related to demographics, family history, premorbid factors and illness onset with TRP.
Younger age at onset (odds ratio 0.94, P = 7.79 × 10−13) and poor premorbid social adjustment (odds ratio 1.64, P = 2.41 × 10−4) increased risk of TRP in univariate regression analyses. These factors remained associated in multivariate regression analyses, which also found lower premorbid IQ (odds ratio 0.98, P = 7.76 × 10−3), younger father's age at birth (odds ratio 0.97, P = 0.015) and cannabis use (odds ratio 1.60, P = 0.025) increased the risk of TRP. Machine-learning approaches found age at onset to be the most important predictor and also identified premorbid IQ and poor social adjustment as predictors of TRP, mirroring findings from regression analyses. Genetic liability for schizophrenia was not associated with TRP.
People with an earlier age at onset of psychosis and poor premorbid functioning are more likely to be treatment resistant. The genetic architecture of susceptibility to schizophrenia may be distinct from that of treatment outcomes.
A number of copy number variants (CNVs) have been suggested as
susceptibility factors for schizophrenia. For some of these the data
remain equivocal, and the frequency in individuals with schizophrenia is
To determine the contribution of CNVs at 15 schizophrenia-associated loci
(a) using a large new data-set of patients with schizophrenia
(n = 6882) and controls (n = 6316),
and (b) combining our results with those from previous studies.
We used Illumina microarrays to analyse our data. Analyses were
restricted to 520 766 probes common to all arrays used in the different
We found higher rates in participants with schizophrenia than in controls
for 13 of the 15 previously implicated CNVs. Six were nominally
significantly associated (P<0.05) in this new
data-set: deletions at 1q21.1, NRXN1, 15q11.2 and
22q11.2 and duplications at 16p11.2 and the Angelman/Prader–Willi
Syndrome (AS/PWS) region. All eight AS/PWS duplications in patients were
of maternal origin. When combined with published data, 11 of the 15 loci
showed highly significant evidence for association with schizophrenia
We strengthen the support for the majority of the previously implicated
CNVs in schizophrenia. About 2.5% of patients with schizophrenia and 0.9%
of controls carry a large, detectable CNV at one of these loci. Routine
CNV screening may be clinically appropriate given the high rate of known
deleterious mutations in the disorder and the comorbidity associated with
these heritable mutations.
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