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Clozapine is the only drug licensed for treatment-resistant schizophrenia (TRS) but the real-world clinical and cost-effectiveness of community initiation of clozapine is unclear.
The aim was to assess the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of community initiation of clozapine.
This was a naturalistic study of community patients recommended for clozapine treatment.
Of 158 patients recommended for clozapine treatment, 88 (56%) patients agreed to clozapine initiation and, of these, 58 (66%) were successfully established on clozapine. The success rate for community initiation was 65.4%; which was not significantly different from that for in-patient initiation (58.82%, χ2(1,88) = 0.47, P = 0.49). Following clozapine initiation, there was a significant reduction in median out-patient visits over 1 year (from 24.00 (interquartile range (IQR) = 14.00–41.00) to 13.00 visits (IQR = 5.00–24.00), P < 0.001), and 2 years (from 47.50 visits (IQR = 24.75–71.00) to 22.00 (IQR = 11.00–42.00), P < 0.001), and a 74.71% decrease in psychiatric hospital bed days (z = −2.50, P = 0.01). Service-use costs decreased (1 year: –£963/patient (P < 0.001); 2 years: –£1598.10/patient (P < 0.001). Subanalyses for community-only initiation also showed significant cost reductions (1 year: –£827.40/patient (P < 0.001); 2 year: –£1668.50/patient (P < 0.001) relative to costs prior to starting clozapine. Relative to before initiation, symptom severity was improved in patients taking clozapine at discharge (median Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale total score: initial visit: 80 (IQR = 71.00–104.00); discharge visit 50.5 (IQR = 44.75–75.00), P < 0.001) and at 2 year follow-up (Health of Nation Outcome Scales total score median initial visit: 13.00 (IQR = 9.00–15.00); 2 year follow-up: 8.00 (IQR = 3.00–13.00), P = 0.023).
These findings indicate that community initiation of clozapine is feasible and is associated with significant reductions in costs, service use and symptom severity.
Evidence from genetics, post mortem and animal studies suggest that N-Methyl-D-Aspartate Receptor (NMDAR) hypofunction has an important role in the pathophysiology of psychosis. However, it is not known if NMDAR activity is altered in the early stages of psychosis or if this links to symptom severity. Our aim was to investigate NMDAR availability in first-episode psychosis (FEP) and determine if it links to symptom severity. The NMDAR hypofunction hypothesis of schizophrenia was initially proposed in the 1990s on the basis of observations that ketamine and phencyclidine (PCP) induced the full range of schizophrenia-like symptoms (positive, negative and cognitive) when given to healthy participants and also that they worsen symptoms in patients with schizophrenia.
We recruited 40 volunteers, including 21 patients with schizophrenia from early intervention services in London (12 antipsychotic-free and 9 receiving antipsychotic medication) and 19 matched healthy controls. The uptake of an NMDAR selective ligand, [18F]GE179, was measured using positron emission tomography (PET) and indexed using the distribution volume ratio (DVR) and volume of distribution (VT, in millilitres per cubic centimetre) of [18F]GE179 in the hippocampus and additional exploratory regions (anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), thalamus, striatum and temporal lobe). Symptom severity was measured using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS).
A total of 37 individuals were included in the analyses (mean [SD] age of controls, 26.7 [4.5] years; mean [SD] age of patients, 25.3 [4.9] years). There was a significant reduction in hippocampal DVR in the patients with schizophrenia relative to healthy controls (p = 0.02, Cohen's d = 0.81). Although the VT of [18F]GE179 was lower in absolute terms in patients, there was no significant effect of group on VT in the hippocampus (p = 0.15, Cohen's d = 0.49) or the exploratory brain regions. There was a negative association between hippocampal DVR and total PANSS symptoms (rho = –0.47, p = 0.04), depressive symptoms (rho = –0.67, p = 0.002), and general PANSS symptoms (rho = –0.74, p = 0.001).
These results indicate lower hippocampal NMDAR levels in schizophrenia relative to controls with a large effect size, and that lower NMDAR levels are associated with greater levels of symptom severity. These findings are consistent with the role of NMDAR hypofunction in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia; however, further work is required to test specificity and causal relationships.
To conduct a meta-analysis of the effect of ketamine on psychopathology in healthy volunteers and patients with schizophrenia, and the experimental factors affecting this.
Ketamine is increasingly used to treat depression and other psychiatric disorders but can induce schizophrenia-like symptoms. Despite this, the consistency and magnitude of symptoms induced by ketamine, or what factors influence the effects of ketamine on these remain unknown.
MEDLINE, EMBASE and PsychINFO databases were searched for within-subject placebo controlled studies reporting symptoms using the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) or Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) in response to an acute ketamine challenge in healthy participants or people with schizophrenia. Two independent investigators extracted study-level data for a random-effects meta-analysis. Total, positive and negative BPRS and PANSS scores were extracted. Sub-group analyses were conducted examining the effect of: blinding status, ketamine preparation, infusion method and time between ketamine and placebo condition. Standardized mean change scores were used as effect sizes for individual studies. Standardized mean changes between ketamine and placebo for total, positive and negative BPRS and PANSS were calculated.
Of 7819 citations retrieved, 36 studies involving healthy participants were included. The overall sample included 725 healthy volunteers exposed to both the ketamine and placebo condition. Ketamine induced a significant increase in transient psychopathology in healthy participants, for total (Standardized mean change (SMC) = 1.50 (95% CI = 1.23 to 1.77), p < 0.0001), positive (SMC = 1.55 (95% CI = 1.29 to 1.81), p < 0.0001) and negative (SMC = 1.16, (95% CI = 0.96 to 1.35), p < 0.0001) symptom ratings, relative to the placebo condition. This effect was significantly greater for positive symptoms than negative symptoms (p = 0.004). Bolus followed by constant infusion increased ketamine's effect on positive symptoms relative to infusion alone (p = 0.006). Single-day study design increased ketamine's effect on total symptoms (p = 0.007), but age and gender did not moderate effects. There were insufficient studies for meta-analysis of studies in schizophrenia. Of these studies, two found a significant increase in symptoms with ketamine administration in total and positive symptoms. Only one study found an increase in negative symptom severity with ketamine.
These findings show that acute ketamine administration induces schizophrenia-like symptomatology with large effect sizes but there is a greater increase in positive than negative symptoms, and when a bolus is used. These findings suggest bolus doses should be avoided in its therapeutic use to minimize the risk of inducing transient positive psychotic symptoms.
Psychotic disorders are associated with metabolic abnormalities including alterations in glucose and lipid metabolism. A major challenge in the treatment of psychosis is to identify patients with vulnerable metabolic profiles who may be at risk of developing cardiometabolic co-morbidities. It is established that both central and peripheral metabolic organs use lipids to control energy balance and regulate peripheral insulin sensitivity. The endocannabinoid system, implicated in the regulation of glucose and lipid metabolism, has been shown to be dysregulated in psychosis. It is currently unclear how these endocannabinoid abnormalities relate to metabolic changes in psychosis. Here we review recent research in the field of metabolic co-morbidities in psychotic disorders as well as the methods to study them and potential links to the endocannabinoid system. We also describe the bioinformatics platforms developed in the EU project METSY for the investigations of the biological etiology in patients at risk of psychosis and in first episode psychosis patients. The METSY project was established with the aim to identify and evaluate multi-modal peripheral and neuroimaging markers that may be able to predict the onset and prognosis of psychiatric and metabolic symptoms in patients at risk of developing psychosis and first episode psychosis patients. Given the intrinsic complexity and widespread role of lipid metabolism, a systems biology approach which combines molecular, structural and functional neuroimaging methods with detailed metabolic characterisation and multi-variate network analysis is essential in order to identify how lipid dysregulation may contribute to psychotic disorders. A decision support system, integrating clinical, neuropsychological and neuroimaging data, was also developed in order to aid clinical decision making in psychosis. Knowledge of common and specific mechanisms may aid the etiopathogenic understanding of psychotic and metabolic disorders, facilitate early disease detection, aid treatment selection and elucidate new targets for pharmacological treatments.
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