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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.
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.
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.
Intervention in the progression of schizophrenia is an effort not just to deter psychosis but also to protect the brain from physiologic deterioration. Neurodegeneration is believed to result from neurochemical dysregulation during the onset of schizophrenia. Deterioration accrued over recurring psychotic episodes causes cumulative loss of cell processes, loss of gray matter volume, and apoptosis. Neurodegeneration ultimately results in persistent symptomology and functional impairment. Functional decline occurs early in the course of schizophrenia, and the symptoms that emerge during the prodromal stage may derail the normal adolescent neurodevelopment. Both first-episode psychosis and the prodrome may be opportunities to forestall neurodegeneration. Unfortunately, people with schizophrenia often experience a long duration of untreated psychosis. Treatment of first-episode psychosis with antipsychotic agents shows robust response. However, early-stage patients have very high rates of medication noncompliance. Treatment in the prodrome may offer the best chance to delay the onset of illness, mitigate its severity after onset, or even prevent onset of symptoms entirely. Nonpharmacologic treatments during the prodrome, such as education, treatment for substance use, and cognitive-behavioral therapy, are low-risk interventions that are potentially beneficial. Pharmacologic interventions during the prodrome are also effective in delaying onset of illness, but carry the risk of adversely affecting patients who are false positives for prodromal schizophrenia.
In this Expert Roundtable Supplement, Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD, provides an overview of the neurobiological basis of neurodegeneration and the concept of neuroprotection. Next, Peter F. Buckley, MD, reviews the importance of first-episode psychosis, including duration of untreated illness and medication adherence. Finally, Diana O. Perkins, MD, MPH, reviews treatment strategies for prodromal schizophrenia.
Most clinical data for antipsychotics come from studies designed to test the efficacy and safety of the drugs under ideal conditions, in limited subgroups of patients. In contrast, practical clinical trials (PCTs) are designed to test the effectiveness of different treatment options under conditions that more accurately reflect actual clinical practice. Consequently, PCTs are able to provide information that can be utilized by healthcare providers and other decision makers. Characteristics of PCTs include a clinically relevant question, a representative sample of patients and practice settings, sufficient power to identify modest relevant effects, randomization to protect against bias, uncertainty regarding the outcome of treatment, assessment and treatment protocols that enact best clinical practices, simple and relevant outcomes, and limited subject and investigator burden. The Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE) research program is an example of a PCT. The CATIE study illustrates how PCTs, when properly designed, might be helpful in informing clinical decision making. Because the CATIE study was designed to reflect the effectiveness of antipsychotics under naturalistic clinical conditions, its results should have particular applicability to the arena of clinical practice. This article provides a discussion of the differences between efficacy and effectiveness studies. In assessing the practical utility of results from the CATIE study, much can be learned on how to shape future studies of effectiveness so as to better generate data that are applicable to the “real world.”
Schizophrenia is a neurodevelopmental disorder associated with persistent symptomatology, severe functional disability, and residual morbidity characteristic of neurodegenerative brain diseases. The illness begins with genetic susceptibility and generally expresses itself after puberty through subtle changes that begin during the prodromal stage. Symptoms get progressively worse and tend to become more resistant to treatment with each relapse. Evidence for a neuroprotective effect of some forms of early treatment is beginning to emerge. While the underlying mechanisms remain uncertain, atypical antipsychotics may counteract some of the progressive deteriorative effects by enhancing synaptic plasticity and cellular resilience. However, identifying and treating patients in the earliest disease states presents methodological challenges as there is no consensus on the best methods of intervention and differences in at-risk children are not readily detectable or substantial enough to predict which ones will develop schizophrenia.
In this expert roundtable supplement, Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD, reviews the historical context of progressive deterioration in schizophrenia. Next, Diana O. Perkins, MD, MPH, reviews some of the challenges to early identification of illness as well as the impact of early versus delayed treatment. Finally, L. Fredrik Jarskog, MD, focuses on the neurobiology of functional progression in schizophrenia as well as pharmacology and the potential for neuroprotection.
Background: Negative beliefs about illness in early psychosis have been shown to have an unfavourable impact on one's quality of life. A shift of focus in psychosis research has been on the detection of individuals considered to be at clinical high risk (CHR) of developing psychosis. Little is known about the impact that beliefs about psychotic like experiences or attenuated psychotic symptoms may have on CHR individuals. Aim: To explore these beliefs in a large sample of young people at CHR of developing psychosis using the Personal Beliefs about Experiences Questionnaire (PBEQ). Method: Beliefs about unusual experiences were assessed in 153 CHR individuals with the PBEQ. Prodromal symptoms (measured by the SIPS) and depression (measured by the CDSS) were also assessed. Results: In CHR individuals, holding more negative beliefs was associated with increased severity in depression and negative symptoms. Higher scores on suspiciousness were associated with increased negative beliefs, and higher levels of grandiosity were associated with decreased negative beliefs. Those who later transitioned to psychosis agreed significantly more with statements concerning control over experiences (i.e. “my experiences frighten me”, “I find it difficult to cope). Conclusions: The results suggest that targeting negative beliefs and other illness related appraisals is an important objective for intervention strategies.
Deterioration in premorbid functioning is a common feature of schizophrenia, but sensitivity to psychosis conversion among clinical high-risk samples has not been examined. This study evaluates premorbid functioning as a predictor of psychosis conversion among a clinical high-risk sample, controlling for effects of prior developmental periods. Participants were 270 clinical high-risk individuals in the North American Prodrome Longitudinal Study—I, 78 of whom converted to psychosis over the next 2.5 years. Social, academic, and total maladjustment in childhood, early adolescence, and late adolescence were rated using the Cannon–Spoor Premorbid Adjustment Scale. Early adolescent social dysfunction significantly predicted conversion to psychosis (hazard ratio = 1.30, p = .014), independently of childhood social maladjustment and independently of severity of most baseline positive and negative prodromal symptoms. Baseline prodromal symptoms of disorganized communication, social anhedonia, suspiciousness, and diminished ideational richness mediated this association. Early adolescent social maladjustment and baseline suspiciousness together demonstrated moderate positive predictive power (59%) and high specificity (92.1%) in predicting conversion. Deterioration of academic and total functioning, although observed, did not predict conversion to psychosis. Results indicate early adolescent social dysfunction to be an important early predictor of conversion. As such, it may be a good candidate for inclusion in prediction algorithms and could represent an advantageous target for early intervention.
Background: Metacognition has been described as the knowledge of our own cognitive processes. Metacognitive deficits are common in schizophrenia, but little is known about metacognition before the onset of full-blown psychosis. Aims: This study aimed to longitudinally characterize metacognition in a sample of individuals at clinical high risk (CHR) for psychosis, and to determine if metacognition was related to later conversion to psychosis. Method: Participants (153 CHR individuals; 68 help seeking controls, HSC) were part of the large multi-site PREDICT study, which sought to determine predictors of conversion to psychosis. They were tested at baseline and 6 months using the Meta-Cognitions Questionnaire (MCQ) that has five sub-scales assessing different domains of metacognition. Results: Results of the mixed-effect models demonstrated significantly poorer scores at baseline for the CHR group compared to the HSC group in Negative beliefs about uncontrollability, Negative beliefs and the overall MCQ score. At the 6-month assessment, no difference was observed in metacognition between the two groups, but both groups showed improvement in metacognition over time. Those who later converted to psychosis had poorer performance on metacognitive beliefs at baseline. Conclusions: A poorer performance in metacognition can be seen as a marker of developing a full blown psychotic illness and confirms the potential value of assessing metacognitive beliefs in individuals vulnerable for psychosis.
Efficient and reliable assessments of cognitive treatment effects are essential for the comparative evaluation of procognitive effects of pharmacologic therapies. Yet, no studies have addressed the sensitivity and efficiency with which neurocognitive batteries evaluate cognitive abilities before and after treatment. Participants were primarily first episode schizophrenia patients who completed baseline (n = 367) and 12-week (n = 219) assessments with the BACS (Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia) and CATIE (Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness) neuropsychological batteries in a clinical trial comparing olanzapine, quetiapine, and risperidone. Exploratory factor analysis revealed that performance on both batteries was characterized by a single factor of generalized cognitive deficit for both baseline performance and cognitive change after treatment. Both batteries estimated similar levels of change following treatment, although the BACS battery required half the administration time. Because a unitary factor characterized baseline cognitive abilities in early psychosis as well as cognitive change after treatment with atypical antipsychotic medications, short batteries such as the BACS may efficiently provide sufficient assessment of procognitive treatment effects with antipsychotic medications. Assessment of cognitive effects of adjunctive therapies targeting specific cognitive domains or impairments may require more extensive testing of the domains targeted to maximize sensitivity for detecting specific predicted cognitive outcomes. (JINS, 2008, 14, 209–221.)Presented in part at the annual International Neuropsychology Society meeting in Portland, OR, February 2007; and the 2007 International Congress for Schizophrenia Research in Colorado Springs, CO.
Facial affect discrimination and identification were assessed in 86 clinical
high-risk individuals and compared with 50 individuals with first-episode
psychosis, 53 with multiepisode schizophrenia and 55 non-psychiatric
controls. On the identification task the non-psychiatric controls performed
significantly better than all other groups, and on discrimination
significantly better than both patient groups. Deficits in facial affect
recognition appear to be present before the onset of psychosis and may be a
A tendency to extract spurious, message-like meaning from meaningless noise was assessed as a risk factor leading to shizophrenia-spectrum disorders by assessing word length of speech illusions elicited by multispeaker babble in 43 people with prodromal symptoms. These individuals were randomised to olanzapine v. placebo groups during year 1 followed by no pharmacological treatment for those with no disorder conversion during year 2. A time-dependent Cox regression analysis of conversion to schizophrenia-spectrum disorder revealed a significant interaction between condition (olanzapine v. no drug) and length of speech illusion, with the latter strongly predicting subsequent conversion during medication-free intervals but not during olanzapine treatment.
Substantial weight gain is common with many atypical antipsychotics.
To evaluate the extent, time course and predictors of weight gain and its effect on study retention among people with first-episode psychosis treated with olanzapine or haloperidol.
Survival analysis assessed time to potentially clinically significant weight gain (⩾7%) and the effect of weight gain on study retention. Weight gain during the 2-year study was summarised using last-observation-carried-forward (LOCF), observed cases and study completion approaches.
After 2 years of treatment, LOCF mean weight gain was 10.2 kg (s.d.=10.1) for olanzapine (n=131) and 4.0 kg (s.d.=7.3) for haloperidol (n=132); observed cases mean weight gain was 15.4 kg (s.d.=10.0) for olanzapine and 7.5 kg (s.d.=9.2) for haloperidol. Change in body mass index was significantly predicted only by treatment group (P < 0.0001).
Olanzapine was associated with significantly greater weight gain than haloperidol, with both leading to greater weight gain than previously described.
Duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) may contribute to the observed heterogeneity of the treatment response in first-episode schizophrenia.
To examine the relationship of DUP and premorbid function with clinical outcomes following up to 2 years of antipsychotic treatment.
For a subsample (n = 191) of subjects participating in a clinical trial, DUP and premorbid function were prospectively compared with clinical response to olanzapine or haloperidol.
Shorter DUP and good premorbid function each independently are associated with better clinical response, including improvement in overall psychopathology and negative symptoms. Premorbid function also is associated with positive symptom, social and vocational outcomes.
Earlier antipsychotic treatment is associated with better outcomes in first-episode schizophrenia. Poor premorbid function could indicate an illness subtype less likely to respond to antipsychotic treatment regardless of when it is instituted.
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