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The aim of the current study was to explore the effect of gender, age at onset, and duration on the long-term course of schizophrenia.
Twenty-nine centers from 25 countries representing all continents participated in the study that included 2358 patients aged 37.21 ± 11.87 years with a DSM-IV or DSM-5 diagnosis of schizophrenia; the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale as well as relevant clinicodemographic data were gathered. Analysis of variance and analysis of covariance were used, and the methodology corrected for the presence of potentially confounding effects.
There was a 3-year later age at onset for females (P < .001) and lower rates of negative symptoms (P < .01) and higher depression/anxiety measures (P < .05) at some stages. The age at onset manifested a distribution with a single peak for both genders with a tendency of patients with younger onset having slower advancement through illness stages (P = .001). No significant effects were found concerning duration of illness.
Our results confirmed a later onset and a possibly more benign course and outcome in females. Age at onset manifested a single peak in both genders, and surprisingly, earlier onset was related to a slower progression of the illness. No effect of duration has been detected. These results are partially in accord with the literature, but they also differ as a consequence of the different starting point of our methodology (a novel staging model), which in our opinion precluded the impact of confounding effects. Future research should focus on the therapeutic policy and implications of these results in more representative samples.
The aim of the current study was to explore the changing interrelationships among clinical variables through the stages of schizophrenia in order to assemble a comprehensive and meaningful disease model.
Twenty-nine centers from 25 countries participated and included 2358 patients aged 37.21 ± 11.87 years with schizophrenia. Multiple linear regression analysis and visual inspection of plots were performed.
The results suggest that with progression stages, there are changing correlations among Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale factors at each stage and each factor correlates with all the others in that particular stage, in which this factor is dominant. This internal structure further supports the validity of an already proposed four stages model, with positive symptoms dominating the first stage, excitement/hostility the second, depression the third, and neurocognitive decline the last stage.
The current study investigated the mental organization and functioning in patients with schizophrenia in relation to different stages of illness progression. It revealed two distinct “cores” of schizophrenia, the “Positive” and the “Negative,” while neurocognitive decline escalates during the later stages. Future research should focus on the therapeutic implications of such a model. Stopping the progress of the illness could demand to stop the succession of stages. This could be achieved not only by both halting the triggering effect of positive and negative symptoms, but also by stopping the sensitization effect on the neural pathways responsible for the development of hostility, excitement, anxiety, and depression as well as the deleterious effect on neural networks responsible for neurocognition.
Neuroimaging studies have indicated that prenatal alcohol exposure is associated with alterations in the structure of specific brain regions in children. However, the temporal and regional specificity of such changes and their behavioural consequences are less known. Here we explore the integrity of regional white matter microstructure in infants with in utero exposure to alcohol, shortly after birth.
Twenty-eight alcohol-exposed and 28 healthy unexposed infants were imaged using diffusion tensor imaging sequences to evaluate white matter integrity using validated tract-based spatial statistics analysis methods. Second, diffusion values were extracted for group comparisons by regions of interest. Differences in fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), axial diffusivity (AD) and radial diffusivity were compared between groups and associations with measures from the Dubowitz neonatal neurobehavioural assessment were examined.
Lower AD values (p<0.05) were observed in alcohol-exposed infants in the right superior longitudinal fasciculus compared with non-exposed infants. Altered FA and MD values in alcohol-exposed neonates in the right inferior cerebellar were associated with abnormal neonatal neurobehaviour.
These exploratory data suggest that prenatal alcohol exposure is associated with reduced white matter microstructural integrity even early in the neonatal period. The association with clinical measures reinforces the likely clinical significance of this finding. The location of the findings is remarkably consistent with previously reported studies of white matter structural deficits in older children with a diagnosis of foetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
This paper reviews the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) literature on the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on the developing human brain.
A literature search was conducted through the following databases: PubMed, PsycINFO and Google Scholar. Combinations of the following search terms and keywords were used to identify relevant studies: ‘alcohol’, ‘fetal alcohol spectrum disorders’, ‘fetal alcohol syndrome’, ‘FAS’, ‘FASD’, ‘MRI’, ‘DTI’, ‘MRS’, ‘neuroimaging’, ‘children’ and ‘infants’.
A total of 64 relevant articles were identified across all modalities. Overall, studies reported smaller total brain volume as well as smaller volume of both the white and grey matter in specific cortical regions. The most consistently reported structural MRI findings were alterations in the shape and volume of the corpus callosum, as well as smaller volume in the basal ganglia and hippocampi. The most consistent finding from diffusion tensor imaging studies was lower fractional anisotropy in the corpus callosum. Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy studies are few to date, but showed altered neurometabolic profiles in the frontal and parietal cortex, thalamus and dentate nuclei. Resting-state functional MRI studies reported reduced functional connectivity between cortical and deep grey matter structures.
There is a critical gap in the literature of MRI studies in alcohol-exposed children under 5 years of age across all MRI modalities. The dynamic nature of brain maturation and appreciation of the effects of alcohol exposure on the developing trajectory of the structural and functional network argue for the prioritisation of studies that include a longitudinal approach to understanding this spectrum of effects and potential therapeutic time points.
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