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Cognition, psychosis risk and metabolic measures in two adolescent birth cohorts

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 July 2018

Hugh Ramsay
Department of Psychiatry, Research Unit of Clinical Neuroscience, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland Department of Psychiatry, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland St. Michael's House, Dublin, Ireland
Jennifer H Barnett
Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK Cambridge Cognition Ltd, Cambridge, UK
Graham K Murray
Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
Jouko Miettunen
Department of Psychiatry, Research Unit of Clinical Neuroscience, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland Faculty of Medicine, Center for Life Course Health Research, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Pirjo Mäki
Department of Psychiatry, Research Unit of Clinical Neuroscience, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital of Oulu, Oulu, Finland Department of Psychiatry, Länsi-Pohja Healthcare District, Kauppakatu 25, 94100 Kemi, Finland Department of Psychiatry, The Middle Ostrobothnia Central Hospital, Kiuru, Finland Mental Health Services, Joint Municipal Authority of Wellbeing in Raahe District, Northern Ostrobothnia, Finland Mental Health Services, Basic Health Care District of Kallio, Helsinki, Finland Department of Psychiatry, Kainuu Central Hospital, Kainuu Social and Healthcare District, Kainuu, Finland
Marjo-Riitta Järvelin
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, Imperial College London, London, W2 1PG, UK Faculty of Medicine, Center for Life Course Health Research, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland Biocenter Oulu, University of Oulu, Aapistie 5, 90220 Oulu, Finland Unit of Primary Health Care, Oulu University Hospital, OYS, Kajaanintie 50, 90220, Oulu, Finland Department of Life Sciences, College of Health and Life Sciences, Brunel University London, Kingston Lane, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 3PH, UK
George Davey Smith
Medical Research Council Integrative Epidemiology Unit, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
Mika Ala-Korpela
Systems Epidemiology, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Computational Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu and Biocenter Oulu, Oulu, Finland NMR Metabolomics Laboratory, School of Pharmacy, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland Population Health Science, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK Medical Research Council Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol, Bristol, UK Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, The Alfred Hospital, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Juha Veijola
Department of Psychiatry, Research Unit of Clinical Neuroscience, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital of Oulu, Oulu, Finland Medical Research Center Oulu, University Hospital of Oulu and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
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Psychoses, especially schizophrenia, are often preceded by cognitive deficits and psychosis risk states. Altered metabolic profiles have been found in schizophrenia. However, the associations between metabolic profiles and poorer cognitive performance and psychosis risk in the population remain to be determined.


Detailed molecular profiles were measured for up to 8976 individuals from two general population-based prospective birth cohorts: the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986 (NFBC 1986) and the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). A high-throughput nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy platform was used to quantify 70 metabolic measures at age 15–16 years in the NFBC 1986 and at ages 15 and 17 years in ALSPAC. Psychosis risk was assessed using the PROD-screen questionnaire at age 15–16 years in the NFBC 1986 or the psychotic-like symptoms assessment at age 17 years in ALSPAC. Cognitive measures included academic performance at age 16 years in both cohorts and general intelligence and executive function in ALSPAC. Logistic regression measured cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between metabolic measures and psychosis risk and cognitive performance, controlling for important covariates.


Seven metabolic measures, primarily fatty acid (FA) measures, showed cross-sectional associations with general cognitive performance, four across both cohorts (low density lipoprotein diameter, monounsaturated FA ratio, omega-3 ratio and docosahexaenoic acid ratio), even after controlling for important mental and physical health covariates. Psychosis risk showed minimal metabolic associations.


FA ratios may be important in marking risk for cognitive deficits in adolescence. Further research is needed to clarify whether these biomarkers could be causal and thereby possible targets for intervention.

Original Articles
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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