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Cognition heavily relies on social determinants and genetic background. Latin America comprises approximately 8% of the global population and faces unique challenges, many derived from specific demographic and socioeconomic variables, such as violence and inequality. While such factors have been described to influence mental health outcomes, no large-scale studies with Latin American population have been carried out. Therefore, we aim to describe the cognitive performance of a representative sample of Latin American individuals with schizophrenia and its relationship to clinical factors. Additionally, we aim to investigate how socioeconomic status (SES) relates to cognitive performance in patients and controls.
We included 1175 participants from five Latin American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico): 864 individuals with schizophrenia and 311 unaffected subjects. All participants were part of projects that included cognitive evaluation with MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery and clinical assessments.
Patients showed worse cognitive performance than controls across all domains. Age and diagnosis were independent predictors, indicating similar trajectories of cognitive aging for both patients and controls. The SES factors of education, parental education, and income were more related to cognition in patients than in controls. Cognition was also influenced by symptomatology.
Patients did not show evidence of accelerated cognitive aging; however, they were most impacted by a lower SES suggestive of deprived environment than controls. These findings highlight the vulnerability of cognitive capacity in individuals with psychosis in face of demographic and socioeconomic factors in low- and middle-income countries.
Social and environmental factors such as poverty or violence modulate the risk and course of schizophrenia. However, how they affect the brain in patients with psychosis remains unclear.
We studied how environmental factors are related to brain structure in patients with schizophrenia and controls in Latin America, where these factors are large and unequally distributed.
This is a multicentre study of magnetic resonance imaging in patients with schizophrenia and controls from six Latin American cities. Total and voxel-level grey matter volumes, and their relationship with neighbourhood characteristics such as average income and homicide rates, were analysed with a general linear model.
A total of 334 patients with schizophrenia and 262 controls were included. Income was differentially related to total grey matter volume in both groups (P = 0.006). Controls showed a positive correlation between total grey matter volume and income (R = 0.14, P = 0.02). Surprisingly, this relationship was not present in patients with schizophrenia (R = −0.076, P = 0.17). Voxel-level analysis confirmed that this interaction was widespread across the cortex. After adjusting for global brain changes, income was positively related to prefrontal cortex volumes only in controls. Conversely, the hippocampus in patients with schizophrenia, but not in controls, was relatively larger in affluent environments. There was no significant correlation between environmental violence and brain structure.
Our results highlight the interplay between environment, particularly poverty, and individual characteristics in psychosis. This is particularly important for harsh environments such as low- and middle-income countries, where potentially less brain vulnerability (less grey matter loss) is sufficient to become unwell in adverse (poor) environments.
Resistance to antipsychotic treatment affects up to 30% of patients with schizophrenia. Although the time course of development of treatment-resistant schizophrenia (TRS) varies from patient to patient, the reasons for these variations remain unknown. Growing evidence suggests brain dysconnectivity as a significant feature of schizophrenia. In this study, we compared fractional anisotropy (FA) of brain white matter between TRS and non–treatment-resistant schizophrenia (non-TRS) patients. Our central hypothesis was that TRS is associated with reduced FA values.
TRS was defined as the persistence of moderate to severe symptoms after adequate treatment with at least two antipsychotics from different classes. Diffusion-tensor brain MRI obtained images from 34 TRS participants and 51 non-TRS. Whole-brain analysis of FA and axial, radial, and mean diffusivity were performed using Tract-Based Spatial Statistics (TBSS) and FMRIB’s Software Library (FSL), yielding a contrast between TRS and non-TRS patients, corrected for multiple comparisons using family-wise error (FWE) < 0.05.
We found a significant reduction in FA in the splenium of corpus callosum (CC) in TRS when compared to non-TRS. The antipsychotic dose did not relate to the splenium CC.
Our results suggest that the focal abnormality of CC may be a potential biomarker of TRS.
Evidence suggests the incidence of non-affective psychotic disorders (NAPDs) varies across persons and places, but data from the Global South is scarce. We aimed to estimate the treated incidence of NAPD in Chile, and variance by person, place and time.
We used national register data from Chile including all people, 10–65 years, with the first episode of NAPD (International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision: F20–F29) between 1 January 2005 and 29 August 2018. Denominators were estimated from Chilean National Census data. Our main outcome was treated incidence of NAPD and age group, sex, calendar year and regional-level population density, multidimensional poverty and latitude were exposures of interest.
We identified 32 358 NAPD cases [12 136 (39.5%) women; median age-at-first-contact: 24 years (interquartile range 18–39 years)] during 171.1 million person-years [crude incidence: 18.9 per 100 000 person-years; 95% confidence interval (CI) 18.7–19.1]. Multilevel Poisson regression identified a strong age–sex interaction in incidence, with rates peaking in men (57.6 per 100 000 person-years; 95% CI 56.0–59.2) and women (29.5 per 100 000 person-years; 95% CI 28.4–30.7) between 15 and 19 years old. Rates also decreased (non-linearly) over time for women, but not men. We observed a non-linear association with multidimensional poverty and latitude, with the highest rates in the poorest regions and those immediately south of Santiago; no association with regional population density was observed.
Our findings inform the aetiology of NAPDs, replicating typical associations with age, sex and multidimensional poverty in a Global South context. The absence of association with population density suggests this risk may be context-dependent.
It is unclear to what extent the traditional distinction between
neurological and psychiatric disorders reflects biological
To examine neuroimaging evidence for the distinction between neurological
and psychiatric disorders.
We performed an activation likelihood estimation meta-analysis on
voxel-based morphometry studies reporting decreased grey matter in 14
neurological and 10 psychiatric disorders, and compared the regional and
network-level alterations for these two classes of disease. In addition,
we estimated neuroanatomical heterogeneity within and between the two
Basal ganglia, insula, sensorimotor and temporal cortex showed greater
impairment in neurological disorders; whereas cingulate, medial frontal,
superior frontal and occipital cortex showed greater impairment in
psychiatric disorders. The two classes of disorders affected distinct
functional networks. Similarity within classes was higher than between
classes; furthermore, similarity within class was higher for neurological
than psychiatric disorders.
From a neuroimaging perspective, neurological and psychiatric disorders
represent two distinct classes of disorders.
There is an ongoing debate about the use of atypical antipsychotics as a first-line treatment for first-episode psychosis.
To examine the evidence base for this recommendation.
Meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials in the early phase of psychosis, looking at long-term discontinuation rates, short-term symptom changes, weight gain and extrapyramidal side-effects. Trials were identified using a combination of electronic (Cochrane Central, EMBASE, MEDLINE and PsycINFO) and manual searches.
Fifteen randomised controlled trials with a total of 2522 participants were included. No significant differences between atypical and typical drugs were found for discontinuation rates (odds ratio (OR) = 0.7, 95% CI 0.4 to 1.2) or effect on symptoms (standardised mean difference (SMD) = –0.1, 95% CI –0.2 to 0.02). Participants on atypical antipsychotics gained 2.1 kg (95% CI 0.1 to 4.1) more weight than those on typicals, whereas those on typicals experienced more extrapyramidal side-effects (SMD = –0.4, 95% CI –0.5 to –0.2).
There was no evidence for differences in efficacy between atypical and typical antipsychotics, but there was a clear difference in the side-effect profile.
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