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Individuals with schizophrenia are at higher risk of physical illnesses, which are a major contributor to their 20-year reduced life expectancy. It is currently unknown what causes the increased risk of physical illness in schizophrenia.
To link genetic data from a clinically ascertained sample of individuals with schizophrenia to anonymised National Health Service (NHS) records. To assess (a) rates of physical illness in those with schizophrenia, and (b) whether physical illness in schizophrenia is associated with genetic liability.
We linked genetic data from a clinically ascertained sample of individuals with schizophrenia (Cardiff Cognition in Schizophrenia participants, n = 896) to anonymised NHS records held in the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) databank. Physical illnesses were defined from the General Practice Database and Patient Episode Database for Wales. Genetic liability for schizophrenia was indexed by (a) rare copy number variants (CNVs), and (b) polygenic risk scores.
Individuals with schizophrenia in SAIL had increased rates of epilepsy (standardised rate ratio (SRR) = 5.34), intellectual disability (SRR = 3.11), type 2 diabetes (SRR = 2.45), congenital disorders (SRR = 1.77), ischaemic heart disease (SRR = 1.57) and smoking (SRR = 1.44) in comparison with the general SAIL population. In those with schizophrenia, carrier status for schizophrenia-associated CNVs and neurodevelopmental disorder-associated CNVs was associated with height (P = 0.015–0.017), with carriers being 7.5–7.7 cm shorter than non-carriers. We did not find evidence that the increased rates of poor physical health outcomes in schizophrenia were associated with genetic liability for the disorder.
This study demonstrates the value of and potential for linking genetic data from clinically ascertained research studies to anonymised health records. The increased risk for physical illness in schizophrenia is not caused by genetic liability for the disorder.
The nature and degree of cognitive impairments in schizoaffective disorder is not well established. The aim of this meta-analysis was to characterise cognitive functioning in schizoaffective disorder and compare it with cognition in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Schizoaffective disorder was considered both as a single category and as its two diagnostic subtypes, bipolar and depressive disorder.
Following a thorough literature search (468 records identified), we included 31 studies with a total of 1685 participants with schizoaffective disorder, 3357 with schizophrenia and 1095 with bipolar disorder. Meta-analyses were conducted for seven cognitive variables comparing performance between participants with schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia, and between schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder.
Participants with schizoaffective disorder performed worse than those with bipolar disorder (g = −0.30) and better than those with schizophrenia (g = 0.17). Meta-analyses of the subtypes of schizoaffective disorder showed cognitive impairments in participants with the depressive subtype are closer in severity to those seen in participants with schizophrenia (g = 0.08), whereas those with the bipolar subtype were more impaired than those with bipolar disorder (g = −0.23) and less impaired than those with schizophrenia (g = 0.29). Participants with the depressive subtype had worse performance than those with the bipolar subtype but this was not significant (g = 0.25, p = 0.05).
Cognitive impairments increase in severity from bipolar disorder to schizoaffective disorder to schizophrenia. Differences between the subtypes of schizoaffective disorder suggest combining the subtypes of schizoaffective disorder may obscure a study's results and hamper efforts to understand the relationship between this disorder and schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
It is not clear to what extent associations between schizophrenia, cannabis use and cigarette use are due to a shared genetic etiology. We, therefore, examined whether schizophrenia genetic risk associates with longitudinal patterns of cigarette and cannabis use in adolescence and mediating pathways for any association to inform potential reduction strategies.
Associations between schizophrenia polygenic scores and longitudinal latent classes of cigarette and cannabis use from ages 14 to 19 years were investigated in up to 3925 individuals in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Mediation models were estimated to assess the potential mediating effects of a range of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral phenotypes.
The schizophrenia polygenic score, based on single nucleotide polymorphisms meeting a training-set p threshold of 0.05, was associated with late-onset cannabis use (OR = 1.23; 95% CI = 1.08,1.41), but not with cigarette or early-onset cannabis use classes. This association was not mediated through lower IQ, victimization, emotional difficulties, antisocial behavior, impulsivity, or poorer social relationships during childhood. Sensitivity analyses adjusting for genetic liability to cannabis or cigarette use, using polygenic scores excluding the CHRNA5-A3-B4 gene cluster, or basing scores on a 0.5 training-set p threshold, provided results consistent with our main analyses.
Our study provides evidence that genetic risk for schizophrenia is associated with patterns of cannabis use during adolescence. Investigation of pathways other than the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral phenotypes examined here is required to identify modifiable targets to reduce the public health burden of cannabis use in the population.
A new fossil site in a previously unexplored part of western Madagascar (the Beanka Protected Area) has yielded remains of many recently extinct vertebrates, including giant lemurs (Babakotia radofilai, Palaeopropithecus kelyus, Pachylemur sp., and Archaeolemur edwardsi), carnivores (Cryptoprocta spelea), the aardvark-like Plesiorycteropus sp., and giant ground cuckoos (Coua). Many of these represent considerable range extensions. Extant species that were extirpated from the region (e.g., Prolemur simus) are also present. Calibrated radiocarbon ages for 10 bones from extinct primates span the last three millennia. The largely undisturbed taphonomy of bone deposits supports the interpretation that many specimens fell in from a rock ledge above the entrance. Some primates and other mammals may have been prey items of avian predators, but human predation is also evident. Strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) suggest that fossils were local to the area. Pottery sherds and bones of extinct and extant vertebrates with cut and chop marks indicate human activity in previous centuries. Scarcity of charcoal and human artifacts suggests only occasional visitation to the site by humans. The fossil assemblage from this site is unusual in that, while it contains many sloth lemurs, it lacks ratites, hippopotami, and crocodiles typical of nearly all other Holocene subfossil sites on Madagascar.
Lymphatic filariasis (LF) threatens nearly 20% of the world's population and has handicapped one-third of the 120 million people currently infected. Current control and elimination programs for LF rely on mass drug administration of albendazole plus diethylcarbamazine (DEC) or ivermectin. Only the mechanism of action of albendazole is well understood. To gain a better insight into antifilarial drug action in vivo, we treated gerbils harbouring patent Brugia malayi infections with 6 mg kg−1 DEC, 0.15 mg kg−1 ivermectin or 1 mg kg−1 albendazole. Treatments had no effect on the numbers of worms present in the peritoneal cavity of treated animals, so effects on gene expression were a direct result of the drug and not complicated by dying parasites. Adults and microfilariae were collected 1 and 7 days post-treatment and RNA isolated for transcriptomic analysis. The experiment was repeated three times. Ivermectin treatment produced the most differentially expressed genes (DEGs), 113. DEC treatment yielded 61 DEGs. Albendazole treatment resulted in little change in gene expression, with only 6 genes affected. In total, nearly 200 DEGs were identified with little overlap between treatment groups, suggesting that these drugs may interfere in different ways with processes important for parasite survival, development, and reproduction.
Most studies underline the contribution of heritable factors for psychiatric disorders. However, heritability estimates depend on the population under study, diagnostic instruments, and study designs that each has its inherent assumptions, strengths, and biases. We aim to test the homogeneity in heritability estimates between two powerful, and state of the art study designs for eight psychiatric disorders.
We assessed heritability based on data of Swedish siblings (N = 4 408 646 full and maternal half-siblings), and based on summary data of eight samples with measured genotypes (N = 125 533 cases and 208 215 controls). All data were based on standard diagnostic criteria. Eight psychiatric disorders were studied: (1) alcohol dependence (AD), (2) anorexia nervosa, (3) attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), (4) autism spectrum disorder, (5) bipolar disorder, (6) major depressive disorder, (7) obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and (8) schizophrenia.
Heritability estimates from sibling data varied from 0.30 for Major Depression to 0.80 for ADHD. The estimates based on the measured genotypes were lower, ranging from 0.10 for AD to 0.28 for OCD, but were significant, and correlated positively (0.19) with national sibling-based estimates. When removing OCD from the data the correlation increased to 0.50.
Given the unique character of each study design, the convergent findings for these eight psychiatric conditions suggest that heritability estimates are robust across different methods. The findings also highlight large differences in genetic and environmental influences between psychiatric disorders, providing future directions for etiological psychiatric research.
22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS) is associated with a high risk of childhood as well as adult psychiatric disorders, in particular schizophrenia. Childhood cognitive deterioration in 22q11.2DS has previously been reported, but only in studies lacking a control sample.
To compare cognitive trajectories in children with 22q11.2DS and unaffected control siblings.
A longitudinal study of neurocognitive functioning (IQ, executive function, processing speed and attention) was conducted in children with 22q11.2DS (n = 75, mean age time 1 (T1) 9.9, time 2 (T2) 12.5) and control siblings (n = 33, mean age T1 10.6, T2 134).
Children with 22q11.2DS exhibited deficits in all cognitive domains. However, mean scores did not indicate deterioration. When individual trajectories were examined, some participants showed significant decline over time, but the prevalence was similar for 22q11.2DS and control siblings. Findings are more likely to reflect normal developmental fluctuation than a 22q11.2DS-specific abnormality.
Childhood cognitive deterioration is not associated with 22q11.2DS. Contrary to previous suggestions, we believe it is premature to recommend repeated monitoring of cognitive function to identifying individual children with 22q11.2DS at high risk of developing schizophrenia.
A number of copy number variants (CNVs) have been suggested as
susceptibility factors for schizophrenia. For some of these the data
remain equivocal, and the frequency in individuals with schizophrenia is
To determine the contribution of CNVs at 15 schizophrenia-associated loci
(a) using a large new data-set of patients with schizophrenia
(n = 6882) and controls (n = 6316),
and (b) combining our results with those from previous studies.
We used Illumina microarrays to analyse our data. Analyses were
restricted to 520 766 probes common to all arrays used in the different
We found higher rates in participants with schizophrenia than in controls
for 13 of the 15 previously implicated CNVs. Six were nominally
significantly associated (P<0.05) in this new
data-set: deletions at 1q21.1, NRXN1, 15q11.2 and
22q11.2 and duplications at 16p11.2 and the Angelman/Prader–Willi
Syndrome (AS/PWS) region. All eight AS/PWS duplications in patients were
of maternal origin. When combined with published data, 11 of the 15 loci
showed highly significant evidence for association with schizophrenia
We strengthen the support for the majority of the previously implicated
CNVs in schizophrenia. About 2.5% of patients with schizophrenia and 0.9%
of controls carry a large, detectable CNV at one of these loci. Routine
CNV screening may be clinically appropriate given the high rate of known
deleterious mutations in the disorder and the comorbidity associated with
these heritable mutations.
When challenged with information about the future, healthy participants show an optimistically biased updating pattern, taking desirable information more into account than undesirable information. However, it is unknown how patients suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD), who express pervasive pessimistic beliefs, update their beliefs when receiving information about their future. Here we tested whether an optimistically biased information processing pattern found in healthy individuals is absent in MDD patients.
MDD patients (n = 18; 13 medicated; eight with co-morbid anxiety disorder) and healthy controls (n = 19) estimated their personal probability of experiencing 70 adverse life events. After each estimate participants were presented with the average probability of the event occurring to a person living in the same sociocultural environment. This information could be desirable (i.e. average probability better than expected) or undesirable (i.e. average probability worse than expected). To assess how desirable versus undesirable information influenced beliefs, participants estimated their personal probability of experiencing the 70 events a second time.
Healthy controls showed an optimistic bias in updating, that is they changed their beliefs more toward desirable versus undesirable information. Overall, this optimistic bias was absent in MDD patients. Symptom severity correlated with biased updating: more severely depressed individuals showed a more pessimistic updating pattern. Furthermore, MDD patients estimated the probability of experiencing adverse life events as higher than healthy controls.
Our findings raise the intriguing possibility that optimistically biased updating of expectations about one's personal future is associated with mental health.
Wildlife reservoir hosts of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) include Eurasian badgers (Meles meles) and brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) in the UK and New Zealand, respectively. Similar species warrant further investigation in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan, USA due to the continued presence of bTB on cattle farms. Most research in Michigan, USA has focused on interactions between white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and cattle (Bos taurus) for the transmission of the infectious agent of bTB, Mycobacterium bovis, due to high deer densities and feeding practices. However, limited data are available on medium-sized mammals such as Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana; hereafter referred to as opossum) and their movements and home range in Michigan near cattle farms. We conducted surveillance of medium-sized mammals on previously depopulated cattle farms for presence of M. bovis infections and equipped opossum with Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to assess potential differences in home range between farms inside and outside the bTB core area that has had cattle test positive for M. bovis. On farms inside the bTB core area, prevalence in opossum was comparable [6%, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2·0–11·0] to prevalence in raccoon (Procyon lotor; 4%, 95% CI 1·0–9·0, P = 0·439) whereas only a single opossum tested positive for M. bovis on farms outside the bTB core area. The prevalence in opossum occupying farms that had cattle test positive for M. bovis was higher (6·4%) than for opossum occupying farms that never had cattle test positive for M. bovis (0·9%, P = 0·01). Mean size of home range for 50% and 95% estimates were similar by sex (P = 0·791) both inside or outside the bTB core area (P = 0·218). Although surveillance efforts and home range were not assessed on the same farms, opossum use of farms near structures was apparent as was selection for farms over surrounding forested habitats. The use of farms, stored feed, and structures by opossum, their ability to serve as vectors of M. bovis, and their propensity to ingest contaminated sources of M. bovis requires additional research in Michigan, USA.
A compact spectrometer-on-a-chip featuring a plasmonic molecular interaction region has been conceived, designed, modeled, and partially fabricated. The silicon-on-insulator (SOI) system is the chosen platform for the integration. The low loss of both silicon and SiO2 between 3 and 4 μm wavelengths enables silicon waveguides on SiO2 as the basis for molecular sensors at these wavelengths. Important characteristic molecular vibrations occur in this range, namely the bond stretching modes C-H (Alkynes), O-H (monomeric alcohols, phenols) and N-H (Amines), as well as CO double bonds, NH2, and CN. The device consists of a broad-band infrared LED, photonic waveguides, photon-to-plasmon transformers, a molecular interaction region, dispersive structures, and detectors. Photonic waveguide modes are adiabatically converted into SPPs on a neighboring metal surface by a tapered waveguide. The plasmonic interaction region enhances optical intensity, which allows a reduction of the overall device size without a reduction of the interaction length, in comparison to ordinary optical methods. After the SPPs propagate through the interaction region, they are converted back into photonic waveguide modes by a second taper. The dispersing region consists of a series of micro-ring resonators with photodetectors coupled to each resonator. Design parameters were optimized via electro-dynamic simulations. Fabrication was performed using a combination of photo- and electron-beam-lithography together with standard silicon processing techniques.