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Clinical implementation of risk calculator models in the clinical high-risk for psychosis (CHR-P) population has been hindered by heterogeneous risk distributions across study cohorts which could be attributed to pre-ascertainment illness progression. To examine this, we tested whether the duration of attenuated psychotic symptom (APS) worsening prior to baseline moderated performance of the North American prodrome longitudinal study 2 (NAPLS2) risk calculator. We also examined whether rates of cortical thinning, another marker of illness progression, bolstered clinical prediction models.
Participants from both the NAPLS2 and NAPLS3 samples were classified as either ‘long’ or ‘short’ symptom duration based on time since APS increase prior to baseline. The NAPLS2 risk calculator model was applied to each of these groups. In a subset of NAPLS3 participants who completed follow-up magnetic resonance imaging scans, change in cortical thickness was combined with the individual risk score to predict conversion to psychosis.
The risk calculator models achieved similar performance across the combined NAPLS2/NAPLS3 sample [area under the curve (AUC) = 0.69], the long duration group (AUC = 0.71), and the short duration group (AUC = 0.71). The shorter duration group was younger and had higher baseline APS than the longer duration group. The addition of cortical thinning improved the prediction of conversion significantly for the short duration group (AUC = 0.84), with a moderate improvement in prediction for the longer duration group (AUC = 0.78).
These results suggest that early illness progression differs among CHR-P patients, is detectable with both clinical and neuroimaging measures, and could play an essential role in the prediction of clinical outcomes.
The 22q11.2 deletion (22q11Del) is among the strongest known genetic risk factors for psychosis. Stress, a known risk factor for psychosis in the general population, has seldom been studied in 22q11Del. We investigated how lifetime stressors related to symptomatic outcomes in patients with 22q11Del. We also explored this association in individuals with 22q11.2 duplications (22q11Dup), which may be potentially protective against psychosis.
One hundred individuals (46 with 22q11Del, 30 with 22q11Dup, and 24 healthy controls; Mage = 17.30 years±10.15) were included. Logistic models were used to examine cross-sectional associations between lifetime acute and chronic stressors (severity and count) and the presence (score ⩾3) of positive, negative, and general symptoms, assessed via the Structured Interview for Psychosis-risk Syndromes (SIPS).
The 22q11Dup group reported the greatest number and severity of acute lifetime stressors, but did not differ from 22q11Del in chronic stressor count or severity. Lifetime chronic and acute stressors were uniquely associated with positive symptoms in 22q11Del (chronic count: odds ratio [OR] = 2.35, p = 0.02; chronic severity: OR = 1.88, p = 0.03; acute count: OR = 1.78, p = 0.03), but not with negative or general symptoms (ps > 0.05).
Findings suggest that stress may play a role in psychotic symptoms in 22q1Del, while the 22q11Dup CNV appears protective against psychotic symptoms despite higher rates of stressors. Interventions that mitigate effects of stressors in 22qDel may reduce the odds of psychosis in this group. Prospective longitudinal research is needed to replicate these findings.
While comorbidity of clinical high-risk for psychosis (CHR-P) status and social anxiety is well-established, it remains unclear how social anxiety and positive symptoms covary over time in this population. The present study aimed to determine whether there are more than one covariant trajectory of social anxiety and positive symptoms in the North American Prodrome Longitudinal Study cohort (NAPLS 2) and, if so, to test whether the different trajectory subgroups differ in terms of genetic and environmental risk factors for psychotic disorders and general functional outcome.
In total, 764 CHR individuals were evaluated at baseline for social anxiety and psychosis risk symptom severity and followed up every 6 months for 2 years. Application of group-based multi-trajectory modeling discerned three subgroups based on the covariant trajectories of social anxiety and positive symptoms over 2 years.
One of the subgroups showed sustained social anxiety over time despite moderate recovery in positive symptoms, while the other two showed recovery of social anxiety below clinically significant thresholds, along with modest to moderate recovery in positive symptom severity. The trajectory group with sustained social anxiety had poorer long-term global functional outcomes than the other trajectory groups. In addition, compared with the other two trajectory groups, membership in the group with sustained social anxiety was predicted by higher levels of polygenic risk for schizophrenia and environmental stress exposures.
Together, these analyses indicate differential relevance of sustained v. remitting social anxiety symptoms in the CHR-P population, which in turn may carry implications for differential intervention strategies.
Disturbed sleep and activity are prominent features of bipolar disorder type I (BP-I). However, the relationship of sleep and activity characteristics to brain structure and behavior in euthymic BP-I patients and their non-BP-I relatives is unknown. Additionally, underlying genetic relationships between these traits have not been investigated.
Relationships between sleep and activity phenotypes, assessed using actigraphy, with structural neuroimaging (brain) and cognitive and temperament (behavior) phenotypes were investigated in 558 euthymic individuals from multi-generational pedigrees including at least one member with BP-I. Genetic correlations between actigraphy-brain and actigraphy-behavior associations were assessed, and bivariate linkage analysis was conducted for trait pairs with evidence of shared genetic influences.
More physical activity and longer awake time were significantly associated with increased brain volumes and cortical thickness, better performance on neurocognitive measures of long-term memory and executive function, and less extreme scores on measures of temperament (impulsivity, cyclothymia). These associations did not differ between BP-I patients and their non-BP-I relatives. For nine activity-brain or activity-behavior pairs there was evidence for shared genetic influence (genetic correlations); of these pairs, a suggestive bivariate quantitative trait locus on chromosome 7 for wake duration and verbal working memory was identified.
Our findings indicate that increased physical activity and more adequate sleep are associated with increased brain size, better cognitive function and more stable temperament in BP-I patients and their non-BP-I relatives. Additionally, we found evidence for pleiotropy of several actigraphy-behavior and actigraphy-brain phenotypes, suggesting a shared genetic basis for these traits.
Childhood adversity is associated with poor mental and physical health outcomes across the life span. Alterations in the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis are considered a key mechanism underlying these associations, although findings have been mixed. These inconsistencies suggest that other aspects of stress processing may underlie variations in this these associations, and that differences in adversity type, sex, and age may be relevant. The current study investigated the relationship between childhood adversity, stress perception, and morning cortisol, and examined whether differences in adversity type (generalized vs. threat and deprivation), sex, and age had distinct effects on these associations. Salivary cortisol samples, daily hassle stress ratings, and retrospective measures of childhood adversity were collected from a large sample of youth at risk for serious mental illness including psychoses (n = 605, mean age = 19.3). Results indicated that childhood adversity was associated with increased stress perception, which subsequently predicted higher morning cortisol levels; however, these associations were specific to threat exposures in females. These findings highlight the role of stress perception in stress vulnerability following childhood adversity and highlight potential sex differences in the impact of threat exposures.
Much of the interest in youth at clinical high risk (CHR) of psychosis has been in understanding conversion. Recent literature has suggested that less than 25% of those who meet established criteria for being at CHR of psychosis go on to develop a psychotic illness. However, little is known about the outcome of those who do not make the transition to psychosis. The aim of this paper was to examine clinical symptoms and functioning in the second North American Prodrome Longitudinal Study (NAPLS 2) of those individuals whose by the end of 2 years in the study had not developed psychosis.
In NAPLS-2 278 CHR participants completed 2-year follow-ups and had not made the transition to psychosis. At 2-years the sample was divided into three groups – those whose symptoms were in remission, those who were still symptomatic and those whose symptoms had become more severe.
There was no difference between those who remitted early in the study compared with those who remitted at one or 2 years. At 2-years, those in remission had fewer symptoms and improved functioning compared with the two symptomatic groups. However, all three groups had poorer social functioning and cognition than healthy controls.
A detailed examination of the clinical and functional outcomes of those who did not make the transition to psychosis did not contribute to predicting who may make the transition or who may have an earlier remission of attenuated psychotic symptoms.
The developmental course of daily functioning prior to first psychosis-onset remains poorly understood. This study explored age-related periods of change in social and role functioning. The longitudinal study included youth (aged 12–23, mean follow-up years = 1.19) at clinical high risk (CHR) for psychosis (converters [CHR-C], n = 83; nonconverters [CHR-NC], n = 275) and a healthy control group (n = 164). Mixed-model analyses were performed to determine age-related differences in social and role functioning. We limited our analyses to functioning before psychosis conversion; thus, data of CHR-C participants gathered after psychosis onset were excluded. In controls, social and role functioning improved over time. From at least age 12, functioning in CHR was poorer than in controls, and this lag persisted over time. Between ages 15 and 18, social functioning in CHR-C stagnated and diverged from that of CHR-NC, who continued to improve (p = .001). Subsequently, CHR-C lagged behind in improvement between ages 21 and 23, further distinguishing them from CHR-NC (p < .001). A similar period of stagnation was apparent for role functioning, but to a lesser extent (p = .007). The results remained consistent when we accounted for the time to conversion. Our findings suggest that CHR-C start lagging behind CHR-NC in social and role functioning in adolescence, followed by a period of further stagnation in adulthood.
Background: Schema Theory proposes that the development of maladaptive schemas are based on a combination of memories, emotions and cognitions regarding oneself and one's relationship to others. A cognitive model of psychosis suggests that schemas are crucial to the development and persistence of psychosis. Little is known about the impact that schemas may have on those considered to be at clinical high risk (CHR) of developing psychosis. Aims: To investigate schemas over time in a large sample of CHR individuals and healthy controls. Method: Sample included 765 CHR participants and 280 healthy controls. Schemas were assessed at baseline, 6 and 12 months using the Brief Core Schema Scale (BCSS). Baseline schemas were compared to 2-year clinical outcome. Results: CHR participants evidenced stable and more maladaptive schemas over time compared to controls. Schemas at initial contact did not vary amongst the different clinical outcome groups at 2 years although all CHR outcome groups evidenced significantly worse schemas than healthy controls. Although there were no differences on baseline schemas between those who later transitioned to psychosis compared to those who did not, those who transitioned to psychosis had more maladaptive negative self-schemas at the time of transition. Associations between negative schemas were positively correlated with earlier abuse and bullying. Conclusions: These findings demonstrate a need for interventions that aim to improve maladaptive schemas among the CHR population. Therapies targeting self-esteem, as well as schema therapy may be important work for future studies.
Youths at clinical high risk (CHR) for psychosis typically exhibit significant social dysfunction. However, the specific social behaviors associated with psychosis risk have not been well characterized. We administer the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS), a measure of autistic traits that examines reciprocal social behavior, to the parents of 117 adolescents (61 CHR individuals, 20 age-matched adolescents with a psychotic disorder [AOP], and 36 healthy controls) participating in a longitudinal study of psychosis risk. AOP and CHR individuals have significantly elevated SRS scores relative to healthy controls, indicating more severe social deficits. Mean scores for AOP and CHR youths are typical of scores obtained in individuals with high functioning autism (Constantino & Gruber, 2005). SRS scores are significantly associated with concurrent real-world social functioning in both clinical groups. Finally, baseline SRS scores significantly predict social functioning at follow-up (an average of 7.2 months later) in CHR individuals, over and above baseline social functioning measures (p < .009). These findings provide novel information regarding impairments in domains critical for adolescent social development, because CHR individuals and those with overt psychosis show marked deficits in reciprocal social behavior. Further, the SRS predicts subsequent real-world social functioning in CHR youth, suggesting that this measure may be useful for identifying targets of treatment in psychosocial interventions.
Background. Although memory deficits are consistently reported in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, the mechanisms underlying these impairments are poorly understood. Clarifying the nature and degree of overlap in memory deficits between the two illnesses could help to distinguish brain systems disrupted in these illnesses, and indicate cognitive remediation strategies to improve patient outcomes.
Method. We examined performance on a non-verbal memory task in clinically stable out-patients with bipolar disorder (n=40), schizophrenia (n=40), and healthy comparison subjects (n=40). This task includes conditions in which distinct mnemonic strategies – namely, using context to organize familiar stimuli or using holistic representation of novel stimuli – facilitate performance.
Result. When compared to a reference condition, bipolar patients had deficits consistent with organizational dysfunction and poor detection of novel information. Although patients with schizophrenia performed worse than the other groups, they were only differentially impaired when organizational demands were significant. Task performance was not correlated with severity of clinical symptomatology.
Conclusions. This pattern of distinct memory impairments implies disturbances in partially overlapping neural systems in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Evidence of impairment in detection of novel stimuli that is unique to bipolar disorder suggests that, while the absolute level of cognitive dysfunction is less severe in bipolar disorder as compared to schizophrenia, subtle disruptions in memory are present. These findings can be used to plan targeted cognitive remediation programs by helping patients to capitalize on intact functions and to learn new strategies that they do not employ without training.
We present a multilevel approach to developing potential explanations
of cognitive impairments and psychopathologies common to individuals with
chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. Results presented support our
hypothesis of posterior parietal dysfunction as a central determinant of
characteristic visuospatial and numerical cognitive impairments.
Converging data suggest that brain development anomalies, primarily tissue
reductions in the posterior brain and changes to the corpus callosum, may
affect parietal connectivity. Further findings indicate that dysfunction
in “frontal” attention systems may explain some executive
cognition impairments observed in affected children, and that there may be
links between these domains of cognitive function and some of the serious
psychiatric conditions, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity
disorder, autism, and schizophrenia, that have elevated incidence rates in
the syndrome. Linking the neural structure and the cognitive processing
levels in this way enabled us to develop an elaborate
structure/function mapping hypothesis for the impairments that are
observed. We show also, that in the case of the
catechol-O-methyltransferase gene, a fairly direct relationship
between gene expression, cognitive function, and psychopathology exists in
the affected population. Beyond that, we introduce the idea that variation
in other genes may further explain the phenotypic variation in cognitive
function and possibly the anomalies in brain development.We thank the children and families that
participated in our studies and the staff of the 22q and You Center at the
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. This work was supported by
grants from the NIH (R01HD42974 and R01HD46159) and the Philadelphia
Foundation to T.J.S., Grant PO1DC02027 to B.S.E., and Grant M01-RR00240 to
the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Northoff's target article presents a unifying theory of the pathophysiology of catatonia, as compared to Parkinson's disease. We address two arguments in particular that do not appear justified by available evidence: (1) The physiological basis of catatonia is the breakdown of right hemisphere prefrontal-parietal cortical connectivity, and (2) Dysfunction in this system results in specific deficits in termination of action.
A number of lines of evidence converge in implicating neurodevelopmental processes in the
etiology and epigenesis of schizophrenia. In this study we used a prospective, longitudinal design
to examine whether adverse obstetric experiences predict schizophrenia and whether there is a
deviant functional–developmental trajectory during the first 7 years of life among
individuals who manifest schizophrenia as adults. The 9,236 members of the Philadelphia cohort
of the National Collaborative Perinatal Project were screened for mental health service utilization
in adulthood, and chart reviews were performed to establish diagnoses according to DSM-IV
criteria. The risk for schizophrenia increased linearly with the number of hypoxia-associated
obstetric complications but was unrelated to maternal infection during pregnancy or fetal growth
retardation. Preschizophrenic cases (and their unaffected siblings who were also cohort
members) manifested cognitive impairment, abnormal involuntary movements and coordination
deficits, and poor social adjustment during childhood. There was no evidence of intraindividual
decline in any domain, but preschizophrenic cases did show deviance on an increasing number of
functional indicators with age. Together, these findings suggest that both genetic and obstetric
factors participate in creating a neural diathesis to schizophrenia, the phenotypic expressions of
which are age dependent, probably reflecting the maturational status of a number of
interconnected brain systems.
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