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Despite the multitude of clinical manifestations of post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), studies applying statistical methods to directly investigate patterns of symptom co-occurrence and their biological correlates are scarce.
We assessed 30 symptoms pertaining to different organ systems in 749 adults (age = 55 ± 14 years; 47% female) during in-person visits conducted at 6–11 months after hospitalization due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), including six psychiatric and cognitive manifestations. Symptom co-occurrence was initially investigated using exploratory factor analysis (EFA), and latent variable modeling was then conducted using Item Response Theory (IRT). We investigated associations of latent variable severity with objective indices of persistent physical disability, pulmonary and kidney dysfunction, and C-reactive protein and D-dimer blood levels, measured at the same follow-up assessment.
The EFA extracted one factor, explaining 64.8% of variance; loadings were positive for all symptoms, and above 0.35 for 16 of them. The latent trait generated using IRT placed fatigue, psychiatric, and cognitive manifestations as the most discriminative symptoms (coefficients > 1.5, p < 0.001). Latent trait severity was associated with decreased body weight and poorer physical performance (coefficients > 0.240; p ⩽ 0.003), and elevated blood levels of C-reactive protein (coefficient = 0.378; 95% CI 0.215–0.541; p < 0.001) and D-dimer (coefficient = 0.412; 95% CI 0.123–0.702; p = 0.005). Results were similar after excluding subjects with pro-inflammatory comorbidities.
Different symptoms that persist for several months after moderate or severe COVID-19 may unite within one latent trait of PASC. This trait is dominated by fatigue and psychiatric symptoms, and is associated with objective signs of physical disability and persistent systemic inflammation.
Accumulating evidence suggests that alterations in inflammatory biomarkers are important in depression. However, previous meta-analyses disagree on these associations, and errors in data extraction may account for these discrepancies.
PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, and the Cochrane Library were searched from database inception to 14 January 2020. Meta-analyses of observational studies examining the association between depression and levels of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin 1-β (IL-1β), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and C-reactive protein (CRP) were eligible. Errors were classified as follows: incorrect sample sizes, incorrectly used standard deviation, incorrect participant inclusion, calculation error, or analysis with insufficient data. We determined their impact on the results after correction thereof.
Errors were noted in 14 of the 15 meta-analyses included. Across 521 primary studies, 118 (22.6%) showed the following errors: incorrect sample sizes (20 studies, 16.9%), incorrect use of standard deviation (35 studies, 29.7%), incorrect participant inclusion (7 studies, 5.9%), calculation errors (33 studies, 28.0%), and analysis with insufficient data (23 studies, 19.5%). After correcting these errors, 11 (29.7%) out of 37 pooled effect sizes changed by a magnitude of more than 0.1, ranging from 0.11 to 1.15. The updated meta-analyses showed that elevated levels of TNF- α, IL-6, CRP, but not IL-1β, are associated with depression.
These findings show that data extraction errors in meta-analyses can impact findings. Efforts to reduce such errors are important in studies of the association between depression and peripheral inflammatory biomarkers, for which high heterogeneity and conflicting results have been continuously reported.
The placebo response in depression clinical trials is a major contributing factor for failure to establish the efficacy of novel and repurposed treatments. However, it is not clear as to what the placebo response in treatment-resistant depression (TRD) patients is or whether it differs across treatment modalities. Our objective was to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of the magnitude of the placebo response in TRD patients across different treatment modalities and its possible moderators.
Searches were conducted on MEDLINE and PsychInfo from inception to January 24, 2020. Only studies that recruited TRD patients and randomization to a placebo (or sham) arm in a pharmacotherapy, brain stimulation, or psychotherapy study were included (PROSPERO 2020 CRD42020190465). The primary outcome was the Hedges’ g for the reported depression scale using a random-effects model. Secondary outcomes included moderators assessed via meta-regression and response and remission rate. Heterogeneity was evaluated using the Egger's Test and a funnel plot. Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool was used to estimate risks.
46 studies met our inclusion criteria involving a total of 3083 participants (mean (SD) age: 45.7 (6.2); female: 52.4%). The pooled placebo effect for all modalities was large (N = 3083, g = 1.08 ,95% CI [0.95-1.20)I 2 = 0.1). The placebo effect in studies of specific treatment modalities did not significantly differ: oral medications g = 1.14 (95%CI:0.99-1.29); parenteral medications g = 1.32 (95%CI:0.59-2.04); ayahuasca g = 0.47 (95%CI:-0.28-1.17); rTMS g = 0.93 (95%CI:0.63-1.23); tDCS g = 1.32 (95%CI:0.52-2.11); invasive brain stimulation g = 1.06 (95%CI:0.64-1.47). There were no psychotherapy trials that met our eligibility criteria. Similarly, response and remission rates were comparable across modalities. Heterogeneity was large. Two variables predicted a lager placebo effect: open-label prospective design (B:0.32, 95%CI: 0.05-0.58; p:0.02) and sponsoring by a pharmaceutical or medical device company (B:0.39, 95%CI:0.13-0.65, p:0.004)). No risk of publication bias was found.
The overall placebo effect in TRD studies was large (g = 1.08) and did not differ among treatment modalities. A better understanding of the placebo response in TRD will require: standardizing the definition of TRD, head-to-head comparisons of treatment modalities, an assessment of patient expectations and experiences, and standardized reporting of outcomes.
Normative data should consider sociodemographic diversity for the accurate diagnosis of cognitive impairment. This study aims to provide normative data for a brief neuropsychological battery and present diagnostic criteria for cognitive impairment that could be used in primary care settings.
We selected 9618 Brazilian middle-aged and older adults after detailed exclusion criteria to avoid subtle cognitive impairment. We analyzed age, sex, and education influence on cognitive performance. To verify the evidence of criterion validity, we compared the cognitive performance of subjects with and without a depressive episode. Additionally, we verified the percentage of spurious scores under three different cutoffs.
Age and education had the greatest impact on cognition. Normative scores were provided according to age and education groups. Participants with a depressive episode performed poorer than control subjects. The clinical cutoff of at least two scores below the 7th percentile revealed the adequate percentage of spurious and possible clinical performance.
The Longitudinal Study on Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil) provided normative data based on a unique selected set of cognitively normal subjects. Normative groups were selected based on age and education, and the battery was sensitive to the presence of a depressive episode. We suggested clinical cutoffs for the tests in this battery that could be used in primary care settings to improve the accurate diagnosis of cognitive impairment.
Relatively few studies have assessed the prevalence, correlates, and independent impact on quality of life (QoL) of trichotillomania (TTM) in large samples.
Consecutive participants (N = 7639) were recruited from a cross-sectional web-based study. Sociodemographic data were collected and several validated self-reported mental health measures were completed (Minnesota Impulsive Disorders Interview, Hypomania checklist, Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence, Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, Early Trauma Inventory Self Report–Short Form, and the Symptom Checklist-90–Revised Inventory). Health-related QoL was assessed with the World Health Organization QoL abbreviated scale (WHOQOL-Bref). Multivariable models adjusted associations to potential confounders.
The sample was predominantly composed of young females (71.3%; mean age: 27.2 ± 7.9 years). The prevalence of probable TTM was 1.4% (95% confidence intervals [CI]: 1.2-1.7), and was more common among females. Participants with probable TTM had a greater likelihood of having co-occurring probable depression (adjusted odds ratio [ORadj] = 1.744; 95% CI: 1.187-2.560), tobacco (ORadj = 2.250; 95% CI: 1.191-4.250), and alcohol (ORadj = 1.751; 95% CI: 1.169-2.621) use disorders. Probable TTM was also independently associated with suicidal ideation (ORadj = 1.917; 95% CI: 1.224-3.003) and exposure to childhood sexual abuse (ORadj = 1.221; 95% CI: 1.098-1.358). In addition, a positive screen for TTM had more impaired physical and mental QoL.
TTM was associated with a positive screen for several psychiatric comorbidities as well as impaired physical and psychological QoL. Efforts towards the recognition and treatment of TTM across psycho-dermatology services are warranted.
Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a non-pharmacological intervention for depression. It has mixed results, possibly caused by study heterogeneity.
To assess tDCS efficacy and to explore individual response predictors.
Systematic review and individual patient data meta-analysis.
Data were gathered from six randomised sham-controlled trials, enrolling 289 patients. Active tDCS was significantly superior to sham for response (34% v. 19% respectively, odds ratio (OR) = 2.44, 95% CI 1.38–4.32, number needed to treat (NNT) = 7), remission (23.1% v. 12.7% respectively, OR = 2.38, 95% CI 1.22–4.64, NNT = 9) and depression improvement (B coefficient 0.35, 95% CI 0.12–0.57). Mixed-effects models showed that, after adjustment for other predictors and confounders, treatment-resistant depression and higher tDCS ‘doses' were, respectively, negatively and positively associated with tDCS efficacy.
The effect size of tDCS treatment was comparable with those reported for repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation and antidepressant drug treatment in primary care. The most important parameters for optimisation in future trials are depression refractoriness and tDCS dose.
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