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Research implicates inflammation in the vicious cycle between depression and obesity, yet few longitudinal studies exist. The rapid weight loss induced by bariatric surgery is known to improve depressive symptoms dramatically, but preoperative depression diagnosis may also increase the risk for poor weight loss. Therefore, we investigated longitudinal associations between depression and inflammatory markers and their effect on weight loss and clinical outcomes in bariatric patients.
This longitudinal observational study of 85 patients with obesity undergoing bariatric surgery included 41 cases with depression and 44 controls. Before and 6 months after surgery, we assessed depression by clinical interview and measured serum high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) and inflammatory cytokines, including interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-10.
Before surgery, depression diagnosis was associated with significantly higher serum hsCRP, IL-6, and IL-6/10 ratio levels after controlling for confounders. Six months after surgery, patients with pre-existing depression still had significantly higher inflammation despite demonstrating similar weight loss to controls. Hierarchical regression showed higher baseline hsCRP levels predicted poorer weight loss (β = −0.28, p = 0.01) but had no effect on depression severity at follow-up (β = −0.02, p = 0.9). Instead, more severe baseline depressive symptoms and childhood emotional abuse predicted greater depression severity after surgery (β = 0.81, p < 0.001; and β = 0.31, p = 0.001, respectively).
Depression was significantly associated with higher inflammation beyond the effect of obesity and other confounders. Higher inflammation at baseline predicted poorer weight loss 6 months after surgery, regardless of depression diagnosis. Increased inflammation, rather than depression, may drive poor weight loss outcomes among bariatric patients.
There is mounting interest in the potential efficacy of low carbohydrate and very low carbohydrate ketogenic diets in various neurological and psychiatric disorders.
To conduct a systematic review and narrative synthesis of low carbohydrate and ketogenic diets (LC/KD) in adults with mood and anxiety disorders.
MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO and Cochrane databases were systematically searched for articles from inception to 6 September 2022. Studies that included adults with any mood or anxiety disorder treated with a low carbohydrate or ketogenic intervention, reporting effects on mood or anxiety symptoms were eligible for inclusion. PROSPERO registration CRD42019116367.
The search yielded 1377 articles, of which 48 were assessed for full-text eligibility. Twelve heterogeneous studies (stated as ketogenic interventions, albeit with incomplete carbohydrate reporting and measurements of ketosis; diet duration: 2 weeks to 3 years; n = 389; age range 19 to 75 years) were included in the final analysis. This included nine case reports, two cohort studies and one observational study. Data quality was variable, with no high-quality evidence identified. Efficacy, adverse effects and discontinuation rates were not systematically reported. There was some evidence for efficacy of ketogenic diets in those with bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder and possibly unipolar depression/anxiety. Relapse after discontinuation of the diet was reported in some individuals.
Although there is no high-quality evidence of LC/KD efficacy in mood or anxiety disorders, several uncontrolled studies suggest possible beneficial effects. Robust studies are now needed to demonstrate efficacy, to identify clinical groups who may benefit and whether a ketogenic diet (beyond low carbohydrate) is required and to characterise adverse effects and the risk of relapse after diet discontinuation.
Enhanced post-awakening cortisol may serve as a biological marker for individuals with major depressive disorder. However, studies comparing post-awakening cortisol between patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) and healthy controls have produced conflicting findings. The aim of this study was to investigate whether this inconsistency could be due to the effects of childhood trauma.
A total of N = 112 patients with MDD and healthy controls were divided into four groups according to the presence of childhood trauma. Saliva samples were collected at awakening and 15, 30, 45, and 60 min later. The total cortisol output and the cortisol awakening response (CAR) were calculated.
The total post-awakening cortisol output was significantly higher in patients with MDD as compared to healthy controls, but only in those individuals reporting childhood trauma. The four groups did not differ regarding the CAR.
Elevated post-awakening cortisol in MDD may be confined to those with a history of early life stress. Tailoring and/or augmenting of currently available treatments may be required to meet the specific needs of this population.
Depression and overweight are each associated with abnormal immune system activation. We sought to disentangle the extent to which depressive symptoms and overweight status contributed to increased inflammation and abnormal cortisol levels.
Participants were recruited through the Wellcome Trust NIMA Consortium. The sample of 216 participants consisted of 69 overweight patients with depression; 35 overweight controls; 55 normal-weight patients with depression and 57 normal-weight controls. Peripheral inflammation was measured as high-sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hsCRP) in serum. Salivary cortisol was collected at multiple points throughout the day to measure cortisol awakening response and diurnal cortisol levels.
Overweight patients with depression had significantly higher hsCRP compared with overweight controls (p = 0.042), normal-weight depressed patients (p < 0.001) and normal-weight controls (p < 0.001), after controlling for age and gender. Multivariable logistic regression showed that comorbid depression and overweight significantly increased the risk of clinically elevated hsCRP levels ⩾3 mg/L (OR 2.44, 1.28–3.94). In a separate multivariable logistic regression model, overweight status contributed most to the risk of having hsCRP levels ⩾3 mg/L (OR 1.52, 0.7–2.41), while depression also contributed a significant risk (OR 1.09, 0.27–2). There were no significant differences between groups in cortisol awakening response and diurnal cortisol levels.
Comorbid depression and overweight status are associated with increased hsCRP, and the coexistence of these conditions amplified the risk of clinically elevated hsCRP levels. Overweight status contributed most to the risk of clinically elevated hsCRP levels, but depression also contributed to a significant risk. We observed no differences in cortisol levels between groups.
A growing body of research suggests that childhood adversities are associated with later psychosis, broadly defined. However, there remain several gaps and unanswered questions. Most studies are of low-level psychotic experiences and findings cannot necessarily be extrapolated to psychotic disorders. Further, few studies have examined the effects of more fine-grained dimensions of adversity such as type, timing and severity.
Using detailed data from the Childhood Adversity and Psychosis (CAPsy) study, we sought to address these gaps and examine in detail associations between a range of childhood adversities and psychotic disorder.
CAPsy is population-based first-episode psychosis case–control study in the UK. In a sample of 374 cases and 301 controls, we collected extensive data on childhood adversities, in particular household discord, various forms of abuse and bullying, and putative confounders, including family history of psychotic disorder, using validated, semi-structured instruments.
We found strong evidence that all forms of childhood adversity were associated with around a two- to fourfold increased odds of psychotic disorder and that exposure to multiple adversities was associated with a linear increase in odds. We further found that severe forms of adversity, i.e. involving threat, hostility and violence, were most strongly associated with increased odds of disorder. More tentatively, we found that some adversities (e.g. bullying, sexual abuse) were more strongly associated with psychotic disorder if first occurrence was in adolescence.
Our findings extend previous research on childhood adversity and suggest a degree of specificity for severe adversities involving threat, hostility and violence.
With the seminal discovery of somatic cell reprogramming with defined genetic factors, it is now a routine laboratory procedure to reprogram somatic cells to generate patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)  Patient-specific iPSCs can be differentiated to generate mature neurons as well as three-dimensional brain organoids that show appropriate functional activity in electrophysiological studies [2,3]. However, there is a significant gap in the thoughtful incorporation of patient-derived neuronal cells in clinical studies addressing disease risk.
Inflammation is a possible biological mechanism underlying the association between childhood maltreatment and psychosis. Previous investigations on this regard were mainly conducted on chronic schizophrenia and lacked control for confounders. We aim to investigate the role of familial liability, childhood maltreatment and recent stress in determining cytokine abnormalities at the onset of psychosis.
We recruited 114 first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients, 57 unaffected biological siblings of FEP patients, and 251 community-based controls. Plasma cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α, IFN-γ, IL-4, IL-10 and TGF-β) were measured and differences across the groups analysed after adjusting for potential confounders.
FEP had a higher pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine profile (IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α, IL-10 and TGF-β), which was not observed in unaffected siblings. Siblings presented decreased IL-1β when compared with patients and controls. Childhood maltreatment was associated with higher levels of TGF-β in both patients and siblings when compared with controls. Physical childhood abuse was associated with increased levels of TGF-β in FEP patients but with decreased levels in controls. Other childhood maltreatment subtypes or recent stressors did not affect cytokine levels in any of the groups.
Normal or reduced cytokines in siblings represent possibly a protective factor and suggest that the identified inflammatory profile in FEP can be a real pathophysiological component of psychosis. Experience of childhood maltreatment may contribute as long-term immune priming for the TGF-β pathway, and increased levels of this cytokine in both patients and siblings exposed to childhood maltreatment point to a possible biological candidate of familial risk for psychosis.
Jumping to conclusions (JTC), which is the proneness to require less information before forming beliefs or making a decision, has been related to formation and maintenance of delusions. Using data from the National Institute of Health Research Biomedical Research Centre Genetics and Psychosis (GAP) case–control study of first-episode psychosis (FEP), we set out to test whether the presence of JTC would predict poor clinical outcome at 4 years.
One-hundred and twenty-three FEP patients were assessed with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) and the probabilistic reasoning ‘Beads’ Task at the time of recruitment. The sample was split into two groups based on the presence of JTC bias. Follow-up data over an average of 4 years were obtained concerning clinical course and outcomes (remission, intervention of police, use of involuntary treatment – the Mental Health Act (MHA) – and inpatient days).
FEP who presented JTC at baseline were more likely during the follow-up period to be detained under the MHA [adjusted OR 15.62, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.92–83.54, p = 0.001], require intervention by the police (adjusted OR 14.95, 95% CI 2.68–83.34, p = 0.002) and have longer admissions (adjusted IRR = 5.03, 95% CI 1.91–13.24, p = 0.001). These associations were not accounted for by socio-demographic variables, IQ and symptom dimensions.
JTC in FEP is associated with poorer outcome as indicated and defined by more compulsion police intervention and longer periods of admission. Our findings raise the question of whether the implementation of specific interventions to reduce JTC, such as Metacognition Training, may be a useful addition in early psychosis intervention programmes.
C-reactive protein (CRP) is a candidate biomarker for major depressive disorder (MDD), but it is unclear how peripheral CRP levels relate to the heterogeneous clinical phenotypes of the disorder.
To explore CRP in MDD and its phenotypic associations.
We recruited 102 treatment-resistant patients with MDD currently experiencing depression, 48 treatment-responsive patients with MDD not currently experiencing depression, 48 patients with depression who were not receiving medication and 54 healthy volunteers. High-sensitivity CRP in peripheral venous blood, body mass index (BMI) and questionnaire assessments of depression, anxiety and childhood trauma were measured. Group differences in CRP were estimated, and partial least squares (PLS) analysis explored the relationships between CRP and specific clinical phenotypes.
Compared with healthy volunteers, BMI-corrected CRP was significantly elevated in the treatment-resistant group (P = 0.007; Cohen's d = 0.47); but not significantly so in the treatment-responsive (d = 0.29) and untreated (d = 0.18) groups. PLS yielded an optimal two-factor solution that accounted for 34.7% of variation in clinical measures and for 36.0% of variation in CRP. Clinical phenotypes most strongly associated with CRP and heavily weighted on the first PLS component were vegetative depressive symptoms, BMI, state anxiety and feeling unloved as a child or wishing for a different childhood.
CRP was elevated in patients with MDD, and more so in treatment-resistant patients. Other phenotypes associated with elevated CRP included childhood adversity and specific depressive and anxious symptoms. We suggest that patients with MDD stratified for proinflammatory biomarkers, like CRP, have a distinctive clinical profile that might be responsive to second-line treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs.
Declaration of interest
S.R.C. consults for Cambridge Cognition and Shire; and his input in this project was funded by a Wellcome Trust Clinical Fellowship (110049/Z/15/Z). E.T.B. is employed half time by the University of Cambridge and half time by GlaxoSmithKline; he holds stock in GlaxoSmithKline. In the past 3 years, P.J.C. has served on an advisory board for Lundbeck. N.A.H. consults for GlaxoSmithKline. P.d.B., D.N.C.J. and W.C.D. are employees of Janssen Research & Development, LLC., of Johnson & Johnson, and hold stock in Johnson & Johnson. The other authors report no financial disclosures or potential conflicts of interest.
The association between childhood adversity and psychosis in adulthood is well established. However, genetic factors might confound or moderate this association.
Using a catchment-based case-control sample, we explored the main effects of, and interplay between, childhood adversity and family psychiatric history on the onset of psychosis.
Childhood adversity (parental separation and death, physical and sexual abuse) was assessed retrospectively in 224 individuals with a first presentation of psychosis and 256 community controls from South London, UK. Occurrence of psychotic and affective disorders in first-degree relatives was ascertained with the Family Interview for Genetic Studies (FIGS).
Parental history of psychosis did not confound the association between childhood adversity and psychotic disorder. There was no evidence that childhood adversity and familial liability combined synergistically to increase odds of psychosis beyond the effect of each individually.
Our results do not support the hypothesis that family psychiatric history amplifies the effect of childhood adversity on odds of psychosis.
It is well established that the immune system can modulate brain functioning and influence behavioural processes. Awareness of communication between the immune and nervous systems has, over the years, progressively heightened interest in the relationship between psychiatric disorders and immune function. By reviewing findings from studies investigating inflammation in the periphery and in the central nervous systems, we summarise here the evidence linking inflammation to the development of depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. We discuss how a pathophysiological role for inflammation has now been recognised across different psychiatric disorders, at least in a significant subpopulation of patients. Finally, we discuss a possible role for these findings in the development of future diagnostic classifications of psychiatric disorders as well as of new treatment strategies.
Sexual dysfunction is common in psychotic disorder but it is not clear
whether it is intrinsic to the development of the illness or secondary to
To compare sexual function in people at ultra-high risk (UHR) of a
psychotic disorder, patients with first-episode psychosis predominantly
taking antipsychotic drugs and healthy volunteers.
Sexual function was assessed in a UHR group (n = 31), a
group with first-episode psychosis (n = 37) and a
matched control group of healthy volunteers (n = 56)
using the Sexual Function Questionnaire.
There was a significant effect of group on sexual function
(P<0.001). Sexual dysfunction was evident in 50%
of the UHR group, 65% of first-episode patients and 21% of controls.
Within the UHR group, sexual dysfunction was more marked in those who
subsequently developed psychosis than in those who did not. Across all
groups the severity of sexual dysfunction was correlated with the
severity of psychotic symptoms (P<0.001). Within the
first-episode group there was no significant difference in sexual
dysfunction between patients taking prolactin-raising v.
Sexual dysfunction is present prior to onset of psychosis, suggesting it
is intrinsic to the development of illness unlikely to be related to the
prolactin-raising properties of antipsychotic medication.
Depression is frequently seen in patients with medical illnesses yet the link between medical illnesses and depression remains unclear. There is increasing data to suggest that the array of depressive symptoms experienced by the medically-ill may involve inflammation. The activation of the immune system and the subsequent release of innate immune products such as cytokines can have important effects on behaviour. The treatment of choice for chronic viral hepatitis C, interferon-alpha IFN-α, acutely induces the production and release of other innate immune cytokines, and has been indicated to cause clinically significant depression in 30% of patients receiving treatment. This in turn can impair quality of life and affect treatment compliance. We and others use IFN-α induced depression as a model to identify alterations in psychological and biological pathways that predispose to depression in the medically-ill, and thus provide an explanatory link between inflammation and the subsequent behavioural changes. In this editorial, we aim to describe the main biological pathways involved in IFN-induced depression and to discuss psychological, clinical and biological factors that have been found to predict those who will develop more severe psychiatric symptoms during treatment with IFN-α. Among these, particular attention would be given to psychological traits, genetic polymorphisms regulating inflammation and serotonergic function, and changes in plasma levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Aims The aim of this paper is to summarise the effects of cannabis use on appetite and energy balance, and to subsequently investigate the possible implications this may have in patients with psychosis, in whom a high prevalence of cannabis use has been reported. Methods – A narrative review based on the recent literature regarding cannabis use in the gen-eral population and patients with psychosis. Results – The short-term abilities of cannabis to increase appetite and body weight, through actions on the endogenous endocannabinoid system, have been well characterised throughout the literature. The long term effects of cannabis use are however unclear and only a minority of studies have been conducted in the general population with overall conflicting results. In terms of the effects of cannabis in patients with psychosis, there has only been one study to date that has investigated this and interestingly found cannabis use to be associated with increased body weight and blood glucose levels, thus providing evidence that cannabis use may be an important contributing factor to the reduced life expectancy, as is currently observed in this vulnerable patient group. Conclusions – It is clear from the literature that patients with psychosis are at a high risk of metabolic and cardiovascular disease in comparison to the general population. However the contribution of cannabis use to this risk is as of yet undetermined and further long term studies are need to confirm current findings and evaluate hypothesised mechanisms.
People who use cannabis have an increased risk of psychosis an effect attributed to the active ingredient δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC). There has recently been concern over an increase in the concentration of Δ9-THC in the cannabis available in many countries.
To investigate whether people with a first episode of psychosis were particularly likely to use high-potency cannabis.
We collected information on cannabis use from 280 cases presenting with a first episode of psychosis to the South London & Maudsley National Health Service (NHS) Foundation Trust, and from 174 healthy controls recruited from the local population.
There was no significant difference between cases and controls in whether they had ever taken cannabis, or age at first use. However, those in the cases group were more likely to be current daily users (OR = 6.4) and to have smoked cannabis for more than 5 years (OR = 2.1). Among those who used cannabis, 78% of the cases group used high-potency cannabis (sinsemilla, ‘skunk’) compared with 37% of the control group (OR 6.8).
The finding that people with a first episode of psychosis had smoked higher-potency cannabis, for longer and with greater frequency, than a healthy control group is consistent with the hypothesis that Δ9-THC is the active ingredient increasing risk of psychosis. This has important public health implications, given the increased availability and use of high-potency cannabis.
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