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Psychotic disorders exhibit a complex aetiology that combines genetic and environmental factors. Among the latter, obstetric complications (OCs) have been widely studied as risk factors, but it is not yet well understood how OCs relate to the heterogeneous presentations of psychotic disorders. We assessed the clinical phenotypes of individuals with a first episode of psychosis (FEP) in relation to the presence of OCs.
Two-hundred seventy-seven patients with an FEP were assessed for OCs using the Lewis–Murray scale, with data stratified into three subscales depending on the timing and the characteristics of the obstetric event, namely: complications of pregnancy, abnormal foetal growth and development and difficulties in delivery. We also considered other two groups: any complications during the pregnancy period and all OCs taken altogether. Patients were clinically evaluated with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale for schizophrenia.
Total OCs and difficulties in delivery were related to more severe psychopathology, and this remained significant after co-varying for age, sex, traumatic experiences, antipsychotic dosage and cannabis use.
Our results highlight the relevance of OCs for the clinical presentation of psychosis. Describing the timing of the OCs is essential in understanding the heterogeneity of the clinical presentation.
Clinical intervention in early stages of psychotic disorders is crucial for the prevention of severe symptomatology trajectories and poor outcomes. Genetic variability is studied as a promising modulator of prognosis, thus novel approaches considering the polygenic nature of these complex phenotypes are required to unravel the mechanisms underlying the early progression of the disorder.
The sample comprised of 233 first-episode psychosis (FEP) subjects with clinical and cognitive data assessed periodically for a 2-year period and 150 matched controls. Polygenic risk scores (PRSs) for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, education attainment and cognitive performance were used to assess the genetic risk of FEP and to characterize their association with premorbid, baseline and progression of clinical and cognitive status.
Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and cognitive performance PRSs were associated with an increased risk of FEP [false discovery rate (FDR) ⩽ 0.027]. In FEP patients, increased cognitive PRSs were found for FEP patients with more cognitive reserve (FDR ⩽ 0.037). PRSs reflecting a genetic liability for improved cognition were associated with a better course of symptoms, functionality and working memory (FDR ⩽ 0.039). Moreover, the PRS of depression was associated with a worse trajectory of the executive function and the general cognitive status (FDR ⩽ 0.001).
Our study provides novel evidence of the polygenic bases of psychosis and its clinical manifestation in its first stage. The consistent effect of cognitive PRSs on the early clinical progression suggests that the mechanisms underlying the psychotic episode and its severity could be partially independent.
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.
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