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Functional impairment is a defining feature of psychotic disorders. A range of factors has been shown to influence functioning, including negative symptoms, cognitive performance and cognitive reserve (CR). However, it is not clear how these variables may affect functioning in first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients. This 2-year follow-up study aimed to explore the possible mediating effects of CR on the relationship between cognitive performance or specific clinical symptoms and functional outcome.
A prospective study of non-affective FEP patients was performed (211 at baseline and 139 at follow-up). CR was entered in a path analysis model as potential mediators between cognitive domains or clinical symptoms and functioning.
At baseline, the relationship between clinical variables or cognitive performance and functioning was not mediated by CR. At follow-up, the effect of attention (p = 0.003) and negative symptoms (p = 0.012) assessed at baseline on functioning was partially mediated by CR (p = 0.032 and 0.016), whereas the relationship between verbal memory (p = 0.057) and functioning was mediated by CR (p = 0.014). Verbal memory and positive and total subscales of PANSS assessed at follow-up were partially mediated by CR and the effect of working memory on functioning was totally mediated by CR.
Our results showed the influence of CR in mediating the relationship between cognitive domains or clinical symptoms and functioning in FEP. In particular, CR partially mediated the relationship between some cognitive domains or clinical symptoms and functioning at follow-up. Therefore, CR could improve our understanding of the long-term functioning of patients with a non-affective FEP.
Around 30% of patients with schizophrenia are considered treatment resistant (TRS). Only around 40% of TRS patients respond to clozapine. Long acting injectable antipsychotics could be a useful augmentation strategy for nonresponders.
We conducted a multicenter, observational, naturalistic, retrospective, 6-month mirror-image study to evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of clozapine and paliperidone palmitate association in 50 patients with TRS and other psychotic disorders. Clinical outcomes and side effects were systematically assessed.
Six months after starting the combined treatment, participants showed a significant relief of symptoms, decreasing the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale total score from 18.32 ± 7.71 to 7.84 ± 5.16 (p < 0.001). The number of hospitalizations, the length of hospital stays and the number of visits to emergency services also decreased, while an increase of the functionality was observed (Personal and Social Performance total score increased from 46.06 ± 118.7 to 60.86 ± 18.68, p < 0.001). There was also a significant decrease in the number and severity of side effects with the combination therapy, decreasing the Udvalg for Kliniske Undersogelser total score from 10.76 ± 8.04 to 8.82 ± 6.63 (p = 0.004).
This study provides the first evidence that combining clozapine with paliperidone palmitate in patients with TRS and other psychotic disorders could be effective and safe, suggesting further research with randomized controlled trials of augmentation strategies for clozapine nonresponder patients.
Policy Significance Statement:
Patients with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia show a variable response to antipsychotic treatments. Around 30% of patients are considered treatment resistant, indicated by insufficient symptom control to at least two different drugs. In these resistant cases, clozapine should be indicated, as it has shown to be superior to other options. However, only 40% of patients respond to clozapine, being necessary to establish which treatments could best potentiate clozapine action. Combining clozapine with long acting injectable antipsychotics, and particularly paliperidone palmitate, could be a useful strategy. We conducted a multicenter study of 50 patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders comparing the efficacy and tolerability in the 6 month-period prior and after starting the clozapine and paliperidone palmitate association. Our study suggests that this combination could be effective and safer, laying the groundwork for future clinical trials with this combination.
Previous literature supports antipsychotics’ (AP) efficacy in acute first-episode psychosis (FEP) in terms of symptomatology and functioning but also a cognitive detrimental effect. However, regarding functional recovery in stabilised patients, these effects are not clear. Therefore, the main aim of this study is to investigate dopaminergic/anticholinergic burden of (AP) on psychosocial functioning in FEP. We also examined whether cognitive impairment may mediate these effects on functioning.
A total of 157 FEP participants were assessed at study entry, and at 2 months and 2 years after remission of the acute episode. The primary outcomes were social functioning as measured by the functioning assessment short test (FAST). Cognitive domains were assessed as potential mediators. Dopaminergic and anticholinergic AP burden on 2-year psychosocial functioning [measured with chlorpromazine (CPZ) and drug burden index] were independent variables. Secondary outcomes were clinical and socio-demographic variables.
Mediation analysis found a statistical but not meaningful contribution of dopaminergic receptor blockade burden to worse functioning mediated by cognition (for every 600 CPZ equivalent points, 2-year FAST score increased 1.38 points). Regarding verbal memory and attention, there was an indirect effect of CPZ burden on FAST (b = 0.0045, 95% CI 0.0011–0.0091) and (b = 0.0026, 95% CI 0.0001–0.0006) respectively. However, only verbal memory post hoc analyses showed a significant indirect effect (b = 0.009, 95% CI 0.033–0.0151) adding premorbid IQ as covariate. We did not find significant results for anticholinergic burden.
CPZ dose effect over functioning is mediated by verbal memory but this association appears barely relevant.
Observational studies have reported earlier onset of psychosis in schizophrenic patients with a history of cannabis use. Earlier age of onset of schizophrenia has been associated with a poorer outcome. We aimed to examine whether cannabis use determined an earlier onset of schizophrenia in a sample of first episode patients, in an area with one of Europe's highest rates of cannabis use.
116 subjects with first episode psychosis and subsequent diagnosis of schizophrenia (after a 12-month follow-up) were included Age at first antipsychotic treatment (A1T) was used as proxy for age of psychosis onset, and acted as dependent variable for the statistical analysis. Cannabis use was evaluated retrospectively, and divided into three groups according to peak frequency (never, sporadic/frequent, daily).
46 (39.7%) subjects had never used cannabis, 23 (19.9%) had done so sporadically/frequently, and 47 (40.5%) daily. A1T differed between the three groups (mean, in years and [SD]: 27.0 [4.94]; 25.7 [4.44] and 24.5 [4.36]; p = 0.033) and diminished as cannabis use increased (linear tendency; p = 0.009). Post-hoc analysis showed that cannabis use (irrespective of frequency) was significantly associated with decrease in A1T (p = 0.033), as shown by the first contrast [1 −1/2 −1/2]. Post-hoc contrast showed that cannabis users had a significantly lower age of onset of psychosis (mean decrease, in years: 1.93; CI (confidence interval) 95%: 0.17–3.70; p = 0.033).
Cannabis use was significantly associated with a decrease in age of onset of schizophrenia. Age of onset of the disease correlated with frequency of cannabis use.
Mixed bipolar states are not infrequent and may be extremely difficult to treat. Lithium, anticonvulsants including valproate and carbamazepine, and antipsychotics such as olanzapine, ziprasidone, and aripiprazole have been reported to be at least partially effective in controlled clinical trials, but many patients do not respond to pharmacological approaches. Electroconvulsive therapy has been tested to be efficacious for the treatment of both manic and depressive episodes, but much less evidence is available with regards to mixed states. The aim of the review was to report the available evidence for the use of electroconvulsive therapy in mixed bipolar states.
A systematic review of the literature on treatment of mixed states, focused on electroconvulsive therapy, was made, beginning in August 1992 and ending in March 2007. The key words were “electroconvulsive therapy” and “mixed bipolar”.
Only three studies met the required quality criteria and were included. This literature suggests that ECT is an effective, safe, and probably underutilized treatment of mixed states. Recent technical developments have made ECT more friendly, tolerable, and safe. Potential alternatives, such as vagus nerve stimulation, deep brain stimulation, or transcranial stimulation, are still far to be proved as effective as ECT.
Daily use of high-potency cannabis has been reported to carry a high risk for developing a psychotic disorder. However, the evidence is mixed on whether any pattern of cannabis use is associated with a particular symptomatology in first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients.
We analysed data from 901 FEP patients and 1235 controls recruited across six countries, as part of the European Network of National Schizophrenia Networks Studying Gene-Environment Interactions (EU-GEI) study. We used item response modelling to estimate two bifactor models, which included general and specific dimensions of psychotic symptoms in patients and psychotic experiences in controls. The associations between these dimensions and cannabis use were evaluated using linear mixed-effects models analyses.
In patients, there was a linear relationship between the positive symptom dimension and the extent of lifetime exposure to cannabis, with daily users of high-potency cannabis having the highest score (B = 0.35; 95% CI 0.14–0.56). Moreover, negative symptoms were more common among patients who never used cannabis compared with those with any pattern of use (B = −0.22; 95% CI −0.37 to −0.07). In controls, psychotic experiences were associated with current use of cannabis but not with the extent of lifetime use. Neither patients nor controls presented differences in depressive dimension related to cannabis use.
Our findings provide the first large-scale evidence that FEP patients with a history of daily use of high-potency cannabis present with more positive and less negative symptoms, compared with those who never used cannabis or used low-potency types.
Cingulate dysfunction has been reported in schizophrenia. Although the paracingulate sulcus (PCS) is known to be asymmetric in healthy people, little information is available about its morphology in schizophrenia.
To search for morphological anomalies of the PCS in men with early-onset schizophrenia.
The PCS was examined in magnetic resonance images of the brains of men with schizophrenia and 100 healthy men.
A significant asymmetry was found in the brains of healthy volunteers, whose sulci were more frequent and more marked in the left hemisphere. In contrast, the sulcus was as frequent in the right as in the left hemisphere in the patient group. Moreover, patients displayed significantly more rightward asymmetry, and overall less-asymmetrical patterns than the comparison group.
Since the PCS has developed at 36 weeks of gestation, these findings suggest an impaired maturation of the cingulate region during the third trimester.
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