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Concept: Schizoaffective disorder


Background Overweight and obesity are epidemic among persons with serious mental illness, yet weight-loss trials systematically exclude this vulnerable population. Lifestyle interventions require adaptation in this group because psychiatric symptoms and cognitive impairment are highly prevalent. Our objective was to determine the effectiveness of an 18-month tailored behavioral weight-loss intervention in adults with serious mental illness. Methods We recruited overweight or obese adults from 10 community psychiatric rehabilitation outpatient programs and randomly assigned them to an intervention or a control group. Participants in the intervention group received tailored group and individual weight-management sessions and group exercise sessions. Weight change was assessed at 6, 12, and 18 months. Results Of 291 participants who underwent randomization, 58.1% had schizophrenia or a schizoaffective disorder, 22.0% had bipolar disorder, and 12.0% had major depression. At baseline, the mean body-mass index (the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters) was 36.3, and the mean weight was 102.7 kg (225.9 lb). Data on weight at 18 months were obtained from 279 participants. Weight loss in the intervention group increased progressively over the 18-month study period and differed significantly from the control group at each follow-up visit. At 18 months, the mean between-group difference in weight (change in intervention group minus change in control group) was -3.2 kg (-7.0 lb, P=0.002); 37.8% of the participants in the intervention group lost 5% or more of their initial weight, as compared with 22.7% of those in the control group (P=0.009). There were no significant between-group differences in adverse events. Conclusions A behavioral weight-loss intervention significantly reduced weight over a period of 18 months in overweight and obese adults with serious mental illness. Given the epidemic of obesity and weight-related disease among persons with serious mental illness, our findings support implementation of targeted behavioral weight-loss interventions in this high-risk population. (Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health; ACHIEVE number, NCT00902694 .).

Concepts: Psychology, Cancer, Obesity, Mental disorder, Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, Psychiatry, Schizoaffective disorder


Urban upbringing is associated with a 2-fold adulthood psychosis risk, and this association replicates for childhood psychotic symptoms. No study has investigated whether specific features of urban neighborhoods increase children’s risk for psychotic symptoms, despite these early psychotic phenomena elevating risk for schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders in adulthood.

Concepts: Longitudinal study, Greek loanwords, Mental disorder, Schizophrenia, Psychosis, Disability, Psychiatry, Schizoaffective disorder


We tested whether polygenic risk scores for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder would predict creativity. Higher scores were associated with artistic society membership or creative profession in both Icelandic (P = 5.2 × 10(-6) and 3.8 × 10(-6) for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder scores, respectively) and replication cohorts (P = 0.0021 and 0.00086). This could not be accounted for by increased relatedness between creative individuals and those with psychoses, indicating that creativity and psychosis share genetic roots.

Concepts: Antipsychotic, Schizophrenia, Psychosis, Bipolar disorder, Creativity, Emil Kraepelin, Schizoaffective disorder, Schizophreniform disorder


It is estimated that more than half of those with serious mental illness smoke tobacco regularly. Standard courses of pharmacotherapeutic cessation aids improve short-term abstinence, but most who attain abstinence relapse rapidly after discontinuation of pharmacotherapy.

Concepts: Mental disorder, Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, Suicide, Schizoaffective disorder


Patients diagnosed with psychotic disorders (for example, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder) have elevated risks of committing violent acts, particularly if they are comorbid with substance misuse. Despite recent insights from quantitative and molecular genetic studies demonstrating considerable pleiotropy in the genetic architecture of these phenotypes, there is currently a lack of large-scale studies that have specifically examined the aetiological links between psychotic disorders and violence. Using a sample of all Swedish individuals born between 1958 and 1989 (n=3 332 101), we identified a total of 923 259 twin-sibling pairs. Patients were identified using the National Patient Register using validated algorithms based on International Classification of Diseases (ICD) 8-10. Univariate quantitative genetic models revealed that all phenotypes (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, substance misuse, and violent crime) were highly heritable (h(2)=53-71%). Multivariate models further revealed that schizophrenia was a stronger predictor of violence (r=0.32; 95% confidence interval: 0.30-0.33) than bipolar disorder (r=0.23; 0.21-0.25), and large proportions (51-67%) of these phenotypic correlations were explained by genetic factors shared between each disorder, substance misuse, and violence. Importantly, we found that genetic influences that were unrelated to substance misuse explained approximately a fifth (21%; 20-22%) of the correlation with violent criminality in bipolar disorder but none of the same correlation in schizophrenia (Pbipolar disorder<0.001; Pschizophrenia=0.55). These findings highlight the problems of not disentangling common and unique sources of covariance across genetically similar phenotypes as the latter sources may include aetiologically important clues. Clinically, these findings underline the importance of assessing risk of different phenotypes together and integrating interventions for psychiatric disorders, substance misuse, and violence.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 15 December 2015; doi:10.1038/mp.2015.184.

Concepts: Genetics, Mental disorder, Violence, Schizophrenia, Psychosis, Bipolar disorder, Psychiatry, Schizoaffective disorder


Elevated cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of the glia-derived N-methyl-D-aspartic acid receptor antagonist kynurenic acid (KYNA) have consistently been implicated in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Here, we conducted a genome-wide association study based on CSF KYNA in bipolar disorder and found support for an association with a common variant within 1p21.3. After replication in an independent cohort, we linked this genetic variant-associated with reduced SNX7 expression-to positive psychotic symptoms and executive function deficits in bipolar disorder. A series of post-mortem brain tissue and in vitro experiments suggested SNX7 downregulation to result in a caspase-8-driven activation of interleukin-1β and a subsequent induction of the brain kynurenine pathway. The current study demonstrates the potential of using biomarkers in genetic studies of psychiatric disorders, and may help to identify novel drug targets in bipolar disorder.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 15 December 2015; doi:10.1038/mp.2015.186.

Concepts: Brain, Mental disorder, Cerebrospinal fluid, Schizophrenia, Psychosis, Psychiatry, Emil Kraepelin, Schizoaffective disorder


Multiple lines of evidence support the pathogenic role of neuroinflammation in psychiatric illness. While systemic autoimmune diseases are well-documented causes of neuropsychiatric disorders, synaptic autoimmune encephalitides with psychotic symptoms often go under-recognized. Parallel to the link between psychiatric symptoms and autoimmunity in autoimmune diseases, neuroimmunological abnormalities occur in classical psychiatric disorders (for example, major depressive, bipolar, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorders). The pathophysiology of these conditions traditionally stressed dysregulation of the glutamatergic and monoaminergic systems, but the mechanisms causing these neurotransmitter abnormalities remained elusive. We review autoimmunity and neuropsychiatric disorders, and the human and experimental evidence supporting the pathogenic role of neuroinflammation in selected classical psychiatric disorders. Understanding how psychosocial, genetic, immunological and neurotransmitter systems interact can reveal pathogenic clues and help target new preventive and symptomatic therapies.

Concepts: Immune system, Medicine, Mental disorder, Schizophrenia, Disability, Psychiatry, Suicide, Schizoaffective disorder


The kynurenine pathway metabolite kynurenic acid (KYNA), modulating glutamatergic and cholinergic neurotransmission, is increased in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder type 1 with psychotic features. KYNA production is critically dependent on kynurenine 3-monooxygenase (KMO). KMO mRNA levels and activity in prefrontal cortex (PFC) are reduced in schizophrenia. We hypothesized that KMO expression in PFC would be reduced in bipolar disorder with psychotic features and that a functional genetic variant of KMO would associate with this disease, CSF KYNA level and KMO expression. KMO mRNA levels were reduced in PFC of bipolar disorder patients with lifetime psychotic features (P=0.005, n=19) or schizophrenia (P=0.02, n=36) compared with nonpsychotic patients and controls. KMO genetic association to psychotic features in bipolar disorder type 1 was studied in 493 patients and 1044 controls from Sweden. The KMO Arg452 allele was associated with psychotic features during manic episodes (P=0.003). KMO Arg452 was studied for association to CSF KYNA levels in an independent sample of 55 Swedish patients, and to KMO expression in 717 lymphoblastoid cell lines and 138 hippocampal biopsies. KMO Arg452 associated with increased levels of CSF KYNA (P=0.03) and reduced lymphoblastoid and hippocampal KMO expression (P0.05). Thus, findings from five independent cohorts suggest that genetic variation in KMO influences the risk for psychotic features in mania of bipolar disorder patients. This provides a possible mechanism for the previous findings of elevated CSF KYNA levels in those bipolar patients with lifetime psychotic features and positive association between KYNA levels and number of manic episodes.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 5 March 2013; doi:10.1038/mp.2013.11.

Concepts: Genetics, Brain, Antipsychotic, Schizophrenia, Psychosis, Bipolar disorder, Mania, Schizoaffective disorder


Evidence suggests that migrant groups have an increased risk of psychotic disorders and that the level of risk varies by country of origin and host country. Canadian evidence is lacking on the incidence of psychotic disorders among migrants. We sought to examine the incidence of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorders in first-generation immigrants and refugees in the province of Ontario, relative to the general population.

Concepts: Immigration, Schizophrenia, Psychosis, Bipolar disorder, Canada, Schizoaffective disorder, Ontario, Toronto


Persistent psychotic symptoms represent a major challenge for psychiatric care. Basic research has shown that psychotic symptoms are associated with cognitive biases. Metacognitive training (MCT) aims at helping patients to become aware of these biases and to improve problem-solving. Fifty-two participants fulfilling diagnostic criteria of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorders and persistent delusions and stabilized antipsychotic medication were enrolled in this study. Following baseline assessment patients were randomized either to treatment as usual (TAU) conditions or TAU+MCT. The intervention consisted of eight weekly 1-hour sessions (maximum: 8hours). Participants were assessed at 8weeks and 6-months later by blind assessors. Participants were assessed with the Psychotic Symptoms Rating Scales (PSYRATS) and the positive subscale of the PANSS. Between-group differences in post- and pre-test values were significant at a medium effect size in favor of the MCT for the PSYRATS delusion scale and the positive scale of the PANSS both at post and follow-up. The results of this study indicate that MCT training has a surplus antipsychotic effect for patients suffering from schizophrenia-related disorders who demonstrate only a partial response to antipsychotic treatment and that the effect of the intervention persists for at least 6months after the intervention.

Concepts: Antipsychotic, Schizophrenia, Psychosis, Bipolar disorder, Psychiatry, Delusion, Delusional disorder, Schizoaffective disorder