First Symptoms of Psychosis Evident in 12-Year-Olds, Study Suggests

Children normally experience flights of fancy, including imaginary friends and conversations with stuffed animals, but some of them are also having hallucinations and delusions which might be the early signs of psychosis.

A study of British 12-year-olds that asked whether they had ever seen things or heard voices that weren’t really there, and then asked careful follow-up questions, has found that nearly 6 percent may be showing at least one definite symptom of psychosis.

The children who exhibited these symptoms had many of the same risk factors that are known to correlate with adult schizophrenia, including genetic, social, neurodevelopmental, home-rearing and behavioral risks.

Source from materials provided by Duke University, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Journal Reference: Polanczyk et al. Etiological and Clinical Features of Childhood Psychotic Symptoms: Results From a Birth Cohort. Archives of General Psychiatry, 2010; 67 (4): 328 DOI: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2010.14

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Researchers Discover Genetic Mutations Associated with Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder

Researchers recently broke new ground in finding the genetic causes of mental illness, identifying a specific region in the genome associated with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism.

An international team, led by geneticist Jonathan Sebat, Ph.D., of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, has discovered a mutation on human chromosome 16 that is a potent risk factor.

“This type of genetic variation is called copy number variation,” Sebat explains. “It means that instead of having differences in sequence, you have a deletion or a duplication of a whole gene or genomic region. It’s not a mutation; it’s extra copies of a gene. So the dosage of the gene changes, rather than the sequence.”

Specifically, Sebat and his team found that a duplication in copy number variation predisposes someone to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder – and a decrease in CNV is associated with autism.

By Cynthia Blair

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Studies in Mice Lead to Better Understanding and Treatment of Schizophrenia

(Great Neck, NY – February 1, 2010) — Researchers at Medical College of Georgia have created what appears to be a mouse with schizophrenia by reducing the inhibition of brain cells involved in complex reasoning and decisions about appropriate social behavior.

Reported by NARSAD

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NARSAD-Funded Imaging Study Shows Positive Improvement in Treatment of Cognitive Impairment in Schizophrenia

(Great Neck, N.Y. – April, 02, 2010) — Top line results of an imaging study funded by NARSAD (National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression) and Allon Therapeutics showed that 12-week treatment with davunetide, a neuroprotective drug candidate developed by Allon, resulted in a statistically significant increase in levels of a biomarker that is an important indicator of brain cell health………

This study was adapted from Allon Therapeutics Inc.

Reported by NARSAD

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Mouse Model May Provide Insight Into the Schizophrenic Brain

Schizophrenia is an incredibly complex and profoundly debilitating disorder that typically manifests in early adulthood but is thought to arise, at least in part, from pathological disturbances occurring during very early brain development. Now, a new study published by Cell Press in the February 25 issue of the journal Neuron, manipulates a known schizophrenia susceptibility gene in the brains of fetal mice to begin to unravel the complex link between prenatal brain development and maturation of information processing and cognition in adult animals.

Science Daily

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Symptoms in Mice Lacking a Single Receptor Type Mimic the Development of Schizophrenia

Deleting one type of neurotransmitter receptor in a specific population of brain cells can induce schizophrenia-like behavior in mice, but only when the receptor is deleted early in development, according to a study by NIMH intramural scientists. The work provides strong support for previous observations implicating these receptors in psychosis; further, the mice provide a model of how psychotic symptoms can arise from a disruption in neuronal development, consistent with observations of how schizophrenia emerges in humans.

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Brain Chemical Linked to Cognitive Decline in Schizophrenia

The delusions and hallucinations associated with schizophrenia may be linked to a deficit in a brain chemical.

This may open an important avenue of inquiry for improving cognitive function in the more than 2 million Americans who suffer from schizophrenia, according to lead author Jong H. Yoon, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at University of California Davis Health System.

Ivanhoe Newswire

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Smoking May Be an Independent Risk Factor for Suicidality

March 11, 2010 (Baltimore, Maryland) — Smoking may be an independent risk factor for suicidality, new research suggests.

A longitudinal study presented here at the Anxiety Disorders Association of America 30th Annual Conference shows a strong association between smoking and suicidality in a cohort of 3021 adolescents and young adults aged 14 to 24 years at baseline.

The Early Developmental Stages of Psychopathology study, a prospective, longitudinal study, showed that prior occasional, regular smoking and nicotine dependence were associated with an increased risk for the onset of suicidal ideation, with odds ratios (ORs) ranging from 1.5 to 2.7.

Prior regular smoking and nicotine dependence were also associated with the subsequent first onset of suicide attempts (ORs, 3.1-4.5). According to the investigators led by Roselind Lieb, PhD, preexisting suicidality was not associated with subsequent smoking or nicotine dependence.

“Smoking increases the risk for subsequent suicidality. We have found it is a risk factor independent of other psychopathologies or other drug use,” Dr. Lieb, professor of epidemiology and health psychology, University of Basel, Switzerland, told Medscape Psychiatry.

The study appears to confirm results from a previous 10-year, longitudinal study published in 2005 that showed that current daily smoking, but not past smoking, predicted the subsequent occurrence of suicidal thoughts or attempts independent of major depression, prior substance use, and suicidal predisposition (Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005;62:328-334)……….

Author: Crina Frincu-Mallos, PhD
Medscape Medical News

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