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Recently there has been a renewed interest in defining the boundaries and subdomains of the negative syndrome in schizophrenia and new scales have been asked for. Apathy is one of the symptoms in focus. The Apathy Evaluation Scale (AES) with its clinical version (AES-C) is one of the most used scales in an interdisciplinary context, but it has never previously been used in a population with first episode psychosis. The main aims of this study were to examine the psychometric properties of the AES-C and its relationship to the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS).
A total of 104 patients with first episode psychosis from the ongoing Thematic Organized Psychosis Research (TOP) study were included.
A factor analysis of the AES-C identified three subscales: Apathy, Insight and Social Contacts. Only the Apathy subscale showed satisfactory psychometric properties and showed acceptable convergent and discriminate properties by correlating strongly with the apathy-related items of the PANSS.
This study shows that the AES-C measures more than one dimension. The main factor, the Apathy subscale, can however be used to assess apathy in first episode psychosis patients in the ongoing work of refining the subdomains of the negative syndrome.
Inflammation and immune activation have been implicated in the pathogenesis of severe mental disorders and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Despite high level of comorbidity, many studies of the immune system in severe mental disorders have not systematically taken cardiometabolic risk factors into account.
We investigated if inflammatory markers were increased in schizophrenia (SCZ) and affective (AFF) disorders independently of comorbid CVD risk factors. Cardiometabolic risk factors (blood lipids, body mass index and glucose) and CVD-related inflammatory markers CXCL16, soluble interleukin-2 receptor (sIL-2R), soluble CD14 (sCD14), macrophage inhibitory factor and activated leukocyte cell adhesion molecule (ALCAM) were measured in n = 992 patients (SCZ, AFF), and n = 647 healthy controls. We analyzed the inflammatory markers before and after controlling for comorbid cardiometabolic risk factors, and tested for association with psychotropic medication and symptom levels.
CXCL16 (p = 0.03) and sIL-2R (p = 7.8 × 10−5) were higher, while sCD14 (p = 0.05) were lower in patients compared to controls after controlling for confounders, with significant differences in SCZ for CXCL16 (p = 0.04) and sIL-2R (p = 1.1 × 10−5). After adjustment for cardiometabolic risk factors higher levels of sIL-2R (p = 0.001) and lower sCD14 (p = 0.002) remained, also in SCZ (sIL-2R, p = 3.0 × 10−4 and sCD14, p = 0.01). The adjustment revealed lower ALCAM levels (p = 0.03) in patients. We found no significant associations with psychotropic medication or symptom levels.
The results indicate that inflammation, in particular enhanced T cell activation and impaired monocyte activation, are associated with severe mental disorders independent of comorbid cardiometabolic risk factors. This suggests a role of novel pathophysiological mechanisms in severe mental disorders, particularly SCZ.
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.
Recientemente ha aumentado el interés por definir los límites y subdominios del síndrome negativo de la esquizofrenia y se han buscado nuevas escalas. La apatía es uno de los síntomas analizados. La Escala de Evaluacion de la Apatía (AES) con su version clínica (AES-C) es una de las escalas más usada en un contexto interdisciplinario, pero no se ha usado antes en poblaciones con el primer episodio de psicosis. Los objetivos principales de este estudio fueron examinar las propiedades psicométricas de la AES-C y su relación con la Escala de Síndrome Positiva y Negativa (PANSS).
Se incluyeron 104 pacientes con un primer episodio de psicosis del estudio de Investigación Tematicá Organizada de la Psicosis (TOP).
En el análisis de los factores de la AES-C se identificaron tres subescalas: Apatía, Percepción y Contactos Sociales. Sólo la subescala de Apatía exhibió propiedades psicométricas satisfactorias y propiedades convergentes y discriminatorias aceptables por correlación fuerte con los apartados del PANSS relacionados con la apatía.
Este estudio demuestra que la AES-C mide mas de una dimensión. Sin embargo, el factor principal, la subescala de la Apatía, puede usarse para evaluar la apatía en pacientes con un primer episodio de psicosis con el fin de refinar la evalaución de los subdominios del síndrome negativo.
Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have partly overlapping clinical profiles, which include an over-representation of substance-use behaviour. There are few previous studies directly comparing substance-use patterns in the two disorders. The objective of the present study was to compare the prevalence of substance use in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and investigate possible differences in pattern and frequency of use.
A total of 336 patients with schizophrenia or bipolar spectrum disorder from a catchment area-based hospital service were included in a cross-sectional study. In addition to thorough clinical assessments, patients were interviewed about drug-use history, habits and patterns of use. The prevalence and drug-use patterns were compared between groups.
Patients with bipolar disorder had higher rates of alcohol consumption, while schizophrenia patients more often used centrally stimulating substances, had more frequent use of non-alcoholic drugs and more often used more than one non-alcoholic drug. Single use of cannabis was more frequent in bipolar disorder.
The present study showed diagnosis-specific patterns of substance use in severe mental disorder. This suggests a need for more disease-specific treatment strategies, and indicates that substance use may be an important factor in studies of overlapping disease mechanisms.