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The multiplicity and complexity of the neuronal connections in the central nervous system make it difficult to disentangle circuits that play an essential role in the development or treatment of (neuro)psychiatric disorders. By choosing the evolutionary development of the forebrain as a starting point, a certain order in the connections can be created. The dorsal diencephalic connection (DDC) system can be applied for the development of biomarkers that can predict treatment response.
Materials and methods:
After providing a brief introduction to the theory, we examined neuroanatomical publications on the connectivity of the DDC system. We then searched for neurochemical components that are specific for the habenula.
Results and discussion:
The best strategy to find biomarkers that reflect the function of the habenular connection is to use genetic variants of receptors, transporters or enzymes specific to this complex. By activating these with probes and measuring the response in people with different functional genotypes, the usefulness of biomarkers can be assessed.
The most promising biomarkers in this respect are those linked to activation or inhibition of the nicotine receptor, dopamine D4 receptor, μ-opioid receptor and also those of the functioning of habenular glia cells (astrocytes and microglia).
Behavioural animal experimentation is an inseparable part of research trying to understand the biological underpinnings of human behaviour, diseases and disorders. Working with animals comes with great responsibility to achieve reliable and reproducible results of highest scientific quality. In a simple step-by-step fashion, we highlight some common issues that may occur along the path to conducting behavioural animal experimentations and posit some solutions and grounds to ensure the excellence of work done in this research area while aspiring to improve conditions for laboratory animals. It entails topics of study design, animal and experimenter welfare, experimental considerations and frequentist biostatistics. At the end, we direct to some guidelines and manuals that may prove valuable to researchers in this field. Our ten simple tips and traps are meant for students who are learning about important concepts for the first time; graduates whose statistics training all too often has neglected the concept of power in experimental design; and researches who would like a light-hearted refresher on these topics. With this perspective, we hope that you will avoid falling into traps and find answers to what you always wanted to know about conducting behavioural animal experimentation.
The Dimensional Anhedonia Rating Scale (DARS) is a novel questionnaire to assess anhedonia of recent validation. In this work, we aim to study the equivalence between the traditional paper-and-pencil and the digital format of DARS. Sixty-nine patients filled the DARS in a paper-based and digital versions. We assessed differences between formats (Wilcoxon test), validity of the scales [Kappa and intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs)], and reliability (Cronbach’s alpha and Guttman’s coefficient). We calculated the comparative fit index and the root mean squared error (RMSE) associated with the proposed one-factor structure. Total scores were higher for paper-based format. Significant differences between both formats were found for three items. The weighted Kappa coefficient was approximately 0.40 for most of the items. Internal consistency was greater than 0.94, and the ICC for the digital version was 0.95 and 0.94 for the paper-and-pencil version (F = 16.7, p < 0.001). Comparative Adjustment Index was 0.97 for the digital DARS and 0.97 for the paper-and-pencil DARS, and RMSE was 0.11 for the digital DARS and 0.10 for the paper-and-pencil DARS. We concluded that the digital DARS is consistent in many respects with the paper-and-pencil questionnaire, but equivalence with this format cannot be assumed without caution.
This study was aimed at evaluating the efficacy of glucosamine and potential mechanisms of actions in a neuropathic pain model in rats.
Glucosamine (500, 1000 and 2000 mg/kg) was administered via gavage route, 1 day before the chronic constriction injury (CCI) of sciatic nerve and daily for 14 days (prophylactic regimen), or from days 5 to 14 post-injury (therapeutic regimen), as the indicators of neuropathic pain, mechanical allodynia, cold allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia were assessed on days 0, 3, 5, 7, 10 and 14 after ligation. Inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) gene expressions were measured by real-time polymerase chain reaction. TNF-α protein content was measured using the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay method.
Three days after nerve injury, the threshold of pain was declined among animals subjected to neuropathic pain. Mechanical and cold allodynia, as well as thermal hyperalgesia were attenuated by glucosamine (500, 1000, 2000 mg/kg) in the prophylactic regimen. However, existing pain was not decreased by this drug. Increased mRNA expression of iNOS and TNF-α was significantly reduced in the spinal cord of CCI animals by glucosamine (500, 1000, 2000 mg/kg) in the prophylactic regimen. The overall expression of spinal TNF-α was increased by CCI, but this increase was reduced in animals receiving glucosamine prophylactic treatment.
Findings suggest that glucosamine as a safe supplement may be a useful candidate in preventing neuropathic pain following nerve injury. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects may be at least in part responsible for the antinociceptive effects of this drug.
S100B is a glial cell protein with bimodal function. In low concentrations, it exerts neurotrophic effects, but higher levels reflect neuronal distress. Recent research suggests that this molecule may be a biomarker of response to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). We examined the effect of ECT on serum S100B and its utility as 1) a biomarker of a depressive state and 2) a predictor of ECT response. We also wanted to ensure that ECT does not cause a marked serum S100B elevation, indicating neural distress.
We measured serum S100B in 22 in-patients treated with ECT due to depression. Depression severity was assessed using 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAMD-17). The data were collected before an ECT series, within 1 week after the series (post-ECT), and at a 6-month follow-up. Changes in serum S100B and clinical outcomes were tested using a linear mixed model. A relationship between serum S100B and the clinical outcomes was examined using Spearman’s and partial correlation.
Serum S100B did not change significantly immediately after an ECT series or 6 months later. The post-ECT serum S100B change was not associated with the clinical effect (rho = 0.14, n = 22, p = 0.54). The baseline serum S100B did not predict the clinical effect when controlling for age (r = 0.02, n = 22, df = 19, p = 0.92).
The study neither supports serum S100B as a state marker of depression nor a predictor of ECT response. No evidence for ECT-related neural distress was found.
Social distancing to limit COVID-19 transmission has led to extensive lifestyle changes, including for people with dementia (PWD). The aim of this study, therefore, was to assess the impact of lockdown on the mental health of PWD and their carers.
Forty-five carers of PWD completed a telephone interview during the baseline assessment of the SOLITUDE study to gather information on life conditions and changes in symptoms of PWD during lockdown. Associations between changes in symptoms of PWD and carers’ concerns and mental health were investigated.
About 44% of carers experienced anxiety and irritability and reported changes in behavioural and cognitive symptoms in PWD. These changes were associated with worse carers’ mental health and concerns about faster disease progression (χ2 = 13.542, p < 0.001).
COVID-19-related social isolation has had a negative impact on patients’ and carers’ mental health. Potential long-term neurocognitive consequences require further investigation.
Akathisia is among the most unpleasant side effects related to antipsychotic drug (AP) use, and possible associations between akathisia and agitation, depression and suicidal behaviour, respectively, have been described in previous literature. New generation antipsychotics are however regarded less prone to induce this particular adverse effect compared to older drugs, but evidence is incomplete and in need of confirmation from clinically relevant samples and settings. We, therefore, aim to investigate akathisia at hospital discharge for patients consecutively admitted with acute-phase psychosis and treated with atypical antipsychotics according to guideline-concordant clinical practice.
This exploratory study is part of a naturalistic randomised controlled study in patients admitted with acute phase psychosis (N = 109). We report cross-sectional data at discharge/first follow-up after acute psychiatric hospital admission for patients with schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders.
There were statistically significant positive associations between akathisia and the following; suicidality in men (Beta 0.306, p = 0.048), but not in women; agitation in those previously unexposed to antipsychotics (Beta 0.288, p = 0.047) and depression in those exposed to antipsychotics before hospital admittance (Beta 0.375, p = 0.031).
Main findings were that akathisia is still a prevalent side effect in a clinically relevant sample of patients treated with atypical antipsychotics. Our results suggest that akathisia is significantly associated with depression, suicidality and agitation in different subgroups of patients receiving APs. Akathisia can be detrimental and the relations between akathisia and depression, suicidality and agitation should be investigated further in prospective, hypothesis-testing studies with larger samples.