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10.1192/bjp.187.48.

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2005, 187:s8-s18. BJP
CHRISTOS PANTELIS
MATCHERI S. KESHAVAN, GREGOR BERGER, ROBERT B. ZIPURSKY, STEPHEN J. WOOD and
Neurobiology of early psychosis
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Background Background Neurobiological studies Neurobiological studies
of the earlycourse of psychoses, such as of the earlycourse of psychoses, such as
schizophrenia, allowinvestigation of schizophrenia, allowinvestigation of
pathophysiology withoutthe confounds of pathophysiology withoutthe confounds of
illness chronicityandtreatment. illness chronicityandtreatment.
Aims Aims Toreview therecent literature on Toreview therecent literature on
the biologyof the earlycourse of the biologyof the earlycourse of
psychoses. psychoses.
Method Method We carried out a critical We carried out a critical
appraisal of therecent findings inthe appraisal of therecent findingsinthe
neurobiologyof earlypsychoses, using neurobiologyof earlypsychoses, using
structural, functional andneurochemical structural, functional andneurochemical
imaging techniques. imaging techniques.
Results Results Brain structural alterations are Brain structural alterations are
present earlyintheillness andmaypre- present earlyintheillness andmaypre-
date symptomonset. Some changes, date symptomonset. Some changes,
notably thoseinfrontal andtemporal notably thoseinfrontal andtemporal
lobes, canprogress during the early lobes, canprogress during the early
phases of theillness. Functional and phases of theillness. Functional and
neurochemical brain abnormalities can neurochemical brain abnormalities can
also be seeninthe premorbid andthe also be seeninthe premorbid andthe
earlyphases of theillness. Some, although earlyphases of theillness. Some, although
not all, changes canbetrait-like whereas not all, changes canbetrait-like whereas
some others might progress during the some others might progress during the
early years. early years.
Conclusions Conclusions Abetter understanding Abetter understanding
of suchchanges, especiallyduring the of suchchanges, especiallyduring the
critical periods of the prodrome, around critical periods of the prodrome, around
thetransitiontothe psychotic phase and thetransitiontothe psychotic phase and
during the earlyphases of theillnessis during the earlyphases of theillnessis
crucial for continuedresearchinto crucial forcontinuedresearchinto
preventiveintervention strategies. preventiveintervention strategies.
Declaration of interest Declaration of interest None. None.
Despite over a century of research, the Despite over a century of research, the
pathophysiology of schizophrenia and re- pathophysiology of schizophrenia and re-
lated psychotic disorders remains unclear. lated psychotic disorders remains unclear.
Early observations of the neurobiology of Early observations of the neurobiology of
schizophrenia and related psychoses largely schizophrenia and related psychoses largely
relied either on post-mortem studies of relied either on post-mortem studies of
mostly older patients with chronic schizo- mostly older patients with chronic schizo-
phrenia or on neuroimaging studies of phrenia or on neuroimaging studies of
patients with established schizophrenia, patients with established schizophrenia,
many of whom were treated with medica- many of whom were treated with medica-
tions. These findings, therefore, are limited tions. These findings, therefore, are limited
by the potential confounds of the effects of by the potential confounds of the effects of
ageing, illness chronicity and medication. ageing, illness chronicity and medication.
Studies of individuals in the early Studies of individuals in the early
phases of schizophrenia avoid such con- phases of schizophrenia avoid such con-
founds and allow us to elucidate the effects founds and allow us to elucidate the effects
of primary illness processes (Keshavan & of primary illness processes (Keshavan &
Schooler, 1992). First, these studies allow Schooler, 1992). First, these studies allow
prospective longitudinal evaluation of the prospective longitudinal evaluation of the
course and predictive value of the neuro- course and predictive value of the neuro-
biological changes. Most neurobiological biological changes. Most neurobiological
studies in early psychosis do not consider studies in early psychosis do not consider
the heterogeneity of the initial presentation, the heterogeneity of the initial presentation,
and this may explain some of the contradic- and this may explain some of the contradic-
tory findings. Early psychosis represents a tory findings. Early psychosis represents a
broad range of possible diagnostic and broad range of possible diagnostic and
prognostic categories that include, but are prognostic categories that include, but are
not limited to, the more traditionally not limited to, the more traditionally
studied schizophrenia and schizoaffective studied schizophrenia and schizoaffective
disorder. Only about half of patients with disorder. Only about half of patients with
early psychosis (Harding early psychosis (Harding et al et al, 1987; , 1987;
Moller & Von Zerssen, 1995) will develop Moller & Von Zerssen, 1995) will develop
a chronic form of schizophrenia with poor a chronic form of schizophrenia with poor
levels of functioning and major impairment levels of functioning and major impairment
in cognition. Second, not everyone who has in cognition. Second, not everyone who has
features of the prodromal phases of the features of the prodromal phases of the
illness goes on to develop the psychotic ill- illness goes on to develop the psychotic ill-
ness. Studies of the prodromal and early ness. Studies of the prodromal and early
course of psychotic disorders provide an course of psychotic disorders provide an
opportunity to elucidate the neuro- opportunity to elucidate the neuro-
biological mechanisms responsible for biological mechanisms responsible for
the transition from the prodrome to the transition from the prodrome to
schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders. schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders.
The importance of studying the neuro- The importance of studying the neuro-
biology of early psychosis stems from the biology of early psychosis stems from the
recent emphasis on early identification recent emphasis on early identification
and preventive intervention in disorders and preventive intervention in disorders
such as schizophrenia (Wyatt, 1991; such as schizophrenia (Wyatt, 1991;
Lieberman Lieberman et al et al, 2001). The onset of psy- , 2001). The onset of psy-
chotic symptoms in schizophrenia is often chotic symptoms in schizophrenia is often
preceded by a premorbid phase, charac- preceded by a premorbid phase, charac-
terised by subtle neuromotor and cognitive terised by subtle neuromotor and cognitive
impairments that may date back to birth. impairments that may date back to birth.
The prodromal phase is associated with The prodromal phase is associated with
cognitive impairment, affective symptoms, cognitive impairment, affective symptoms,
social withdrawal, and/or sub-threshold social withdrawal, and/or sub-threshold
(attenuated) positive symptoms. Recent (attenuated) positive symptoms. Recent
studies suggest that more than a third of studies suggest that more than a third of
patients presenting with prodromal patients presenting with prodromal
symptoms, if untreated, convert to schizo- symptoms, if untreated, convert to schizo-
phrenia or a related psychotic disorder phrenia or a related psychotic disorder
(McGorry (McGorry et al et al, 2002; Yung , 2002; Yung et al et al, 2003). , 2003).
The duration of the psychotic symptoms The duration of the psychotic symptoms
prior to treatment typically averages about prior to treatment typically averages about
a year, and the average prodromal duration a year, and the average prodromal duration
is about 3 years across studies (McGlashan, is about 3 years across studies (McGlashan,
1996). If untreated, the early phases 1996). If untreated, the early phases
of schizophrenia result in a progressive of schizophrenia result in a progressive
accrual of morbidity; the longer the period accrual of morbidity; the longer the period
of untreated illness, the worse appears to of untreated illness, the worse appears to
be the outcome (Lieberman be the outcome (Lieberman et al et al, 2001; , 2001;
McGorry McGorry et al et al, 2001; Keshavan , 2001; Keshavan et al et al, ,
2003 2003a a). Studies of patients at ultra-high ). Studies of patients at ultra-high
risk of psychosis and in the early phase risk of psychosis and in the early phase
schizophrenia and related disorders are schizophrenia and related disorders are
critical for our prevention and early critical for our prevention and early
intervention efforts, since the deteriorative intervention efforts, since the deteriorative
processes of this illness may set in during processes of this illness may set in during
this critical time window (McGlashan, this critical time window (McGlashan,
1996). 1996).
Neurobiological investigations in early Neurobiological investigations in early
psychosis have greatly benefited from psychosis have greatly benefited from
recent conceptual models that have recent conceptual models that have
suggested a number of testable hypotheses. suggested a number of testable hypotheses.
The traditional (or early) neurodevelop- The traditional (or early) neurodevelop-
mental model posits abnormalities in foetal mental model posits abnormalities in foetal
brain development as mediating the failure brain development as mediating the failure
of brain functions in early adulthood. An of brain functions in early adulthood. An
array of data, such as an increased rate of array of data, such as an increased rate of
obstetric complications, minor physical obstetric complications, minor physical
abnormalities, neurological soft signs and abnormalities, neurological soft signs and
subtle behavioural abnormalities in chil- subtle behavioural abnormalities in chil-
dren who later developed schizophrenia, dren who later developed schizophrenia,
support this model for schizophrenia in support this model for schizophrenia in
particular, but most likely also for a range particular, but most likely also for a range
of other neuropsychiatric disorders. How- of other neuropsychiatric disorders. How-
ever, their prevalence in the non-affected ever, their prevalence in the non-affected
population is substantial and their positive population is substantial and their positive
predictive value for the development of predictive value for the development of
schizophrenia is limited (Murray & Lewis, schizophrenia is limited (Murray & Lewis,
1987; Weinberger, 1987). The illness onset, 1987; Weinberger, 1987). The illness onset,
typically in adolescence and early adult- typically in adolescence and early adult-
hood, is suggestive of brain maturational hood, is suggestive of brain maturational
abnormality around or prior to the onset abnormality around or prior to the onset
of psychosis. Excessive synaptic/dendritic of psychosis. Excessive synaptic/dendritic
pruning around the peri-onset phase of pruning around the peri-onset phase of
illness (Feinberg, 1982, 1990; Keshavan illness (Feinberg, 1982, 1990; Keshavan
et al et al, 1994) has been postulated as one , 1994) has been postulated as one
s 8 s 8
BRI TI S H J OURNAL OF P SYCHI ATRY BRI TI S H J OURNAL OF P SYCHI ATRY ( 2 0 0 5 ) , 1 8 7 ( s up pl . 4 8 ) , s 8 ^ s1 8 ( 2 0 0 5 ) , 1 8 7 ( s u ppl . 4 8 ) , s 8 ^ s1 8
Neurobiology of early psychosis* Neurobiology of early psychosis*
MATCHERI S. KESHAVAN, GREGOR BERGER, ROBERT B. ZIPURSKY, MATCHERI S. KESHAVAN, GREGOR BERGER, ROBERT B. ZIPURSKY,
STEPHEN J. WOOD and CHRISTOS PANTELIS STEPHEN J. WOOD and CHRISTOS PANTELIS
*Paper presented attheThird International Early *Paper presented attheThird International Early
Psychosis Conference,Copenhagen, Denmark, Psychosis Conference,Copenhagen, Denmark,
September 2002. September 2002.
NEUROBIOLOGY OF EARLY P SYCHOS I S NEUROBIOLOGY OF EARLY P SYCHOSI S
potential pathological mechanism under- potential pathological mechanism under-
pinning the onset of psychosis in adoles- pinning the onset of psychosis in adoles-
cence or early adulthood, but the cence or early adulthood, but the
understanding of the underlying neuro- understanding of the underlying neuro-
biology of this phase of illness is still biology of this phase of illness is still
limited. The idea that active biological limited. The idea that active biological
changes could occur during the prodromal changes could occur during the prodromal
phase or the often lengthy period of phase or the often lengthy period of
untreated psychosis has led to the neuro- untreated psychosis has led to the neuro-
degenerative models (Garver, 1987; degenerative models (Garver, 1987;
McGorry & McConville, 2000; Lieberman McGorry & McConville, 2000; Lieberman
et al et al, 2001). Unifying models have also , 2001). Unifying models have also
been proposed and include two (Bayer been proposed and include two (Bayer et et
al al, 1999) and three hit models (Keshavan , 1999) and three hit models (Keshavan
& Hogarty, 1999; Velakoulis & Hogarty, 1999; Velakoulis et al et al, 2000; , 2000;
Pantelis Pantelis et al et al, 2003 , 2003c c) of schizophrenia; ) of schizophrenia;
environmental factors, such as illicit drug environmental factors, such as illicit drug
use and psychosocial stress, also may be use and psychosocial stress, also may be
the potential secondary triggers accomp- the potential secondary triggers accomp-
anying the onset and course of schizo- anying the onset and course of schizo-
phrenia (Allin & Murray, 2002; Buhler phrenia (Allin & Murray, 2002; Buhler et et
al al, 2002). Neurobiological studies of early , 2002). Neurobiological studies of early
psychoses have the potential to examine psychoses have the potential to examine
predictions generated by these seemingly predictions generated by these seemingly
contrasting models. contrasting models.
METHOD METHOD
We summarise the structural, functional We summarise the structural, functional
and neurochemical brain changes in the and neurochemical brain changes in the
early phase of psychotic disorders and their early phase of psychotic disorders and their
implications for future research and new implications for future research and new
innovative treatment approaches. A full innovative treatment approaches. A full
review of the extensive literature in this review of the extensive literature in this
area is beyond the scope of this paper; the area is beyond the scope of this paper; the
main themes are summarised here, and the main themes are summarised here, and the
reader is also referred to larger works reader is also referred to larger works
(Copolov (Copolov et al et al, 2000; Keshavan , 2000; Keshavan et al et al, ,
2000; Lieberman 2000; Lieberman et al et al, 2001; Callicott, , 2001; Callicott,
2003; Pantelis 2003; Pantelis et al et al, 2003 , 2003c c). ).
RESULTS RESULTS
Structural neuroimaging studies Structural neuroimaging studies
Over the past quarter century, computed Over the past quarter century, computed
tomography (CT) (Johnstone tomography (CT) (Johnstone et al et al, 1976; , 1976;
Weinberger Weinberger et al et al, 1979; Pfefferbaum , 1979; Pfefferbaum et al et al, ,
1988) and magnetic resonance imaging 1988) and magnetic resonance imaging
(MRI) studies (Lawrie & Abukmeil, 1998; (MRI) studies (Lawrie & Abukmeil, 1998;
Shenton Shenton et al et al, 2001) have aimed to charac- , 2001) have aimed to charac-
terise significant abnormalities in brain terise significant abnormalities in brain
structure in patients with schizophrenia and structure in patients with schizophrenia and
to reinforce the view that schizophrenia to reinforce the view that schizophrenia
was indeed a disease of the central nervous was indeed a disease of the central nervous
system. The observed differences in brain system. The observed differences in brain
structure include larger ventricular structure include larger ventricular
volumes, volumes, smaller cerebral grey matter smaller cerebral grey matter
volumes and smaller hippocampal volumes. volumes and smaller hippocampal volumes.
The key question of more recent interest The key question of more recent interest
has been whether these findings reflect a has been whether these findings reflect a
static or an active pathological process static or an active pathological process
(Weinberger & McClure, 2002), a distinc- (Weinberger & McClure, 2002), a distinc-
tion critical to developing a conceptual tion critical to developing a conceptual
model to explain the development of model to explain the development of
schizophrenia. schizophrenia.
Earlier cross-sectional CT and MRI Earlier cross-sectional CT and MRI
studies failed to find a relationship between studies failed to find a relationship between
illness duration and brain findings in illness duration and brain findings in
chronically ill subjects (Zipursky chronically ill subjects (Zipursky et al et al, ,
1988; Marsh 1988; Marsh et al et al, 1994). In a more recent , 1994). In a more recent
study Hulshoff Pol study Hulshoff Pol et al et al (2002) used MRI to (2002) used MRI to
study whole brain grey matter volumes over study whole brain grey matter volumes over
the adult age range in 159 patients with the adult age range in 159 patients with
schizophrenia and 158 healthy comparison schizophrenia and 158 healthy comparison
subjects. They found a significant group- subjects. They found a significant group-
by-age interaction with grey matter by-age interaction with grey matter
volumes declining at a more rapid rate in volumes declining at a more rapid rate in
patients with schizophrenia. In another patients with schizophrenia. In another
study of patients with established schizo- study of patients with established schizo-
phrenia that examined brain grey matter phrenia that examined brain grey matter
using a voxel-based analysis method, using a voxel-based analysis method,
Velakoulis Velakoulis et al et al (2000) found that duration (2000) found that duration
of illness was associated with a reduction in of illness was associated with a reduction in
grey matter volume in the right medial grey matter volume in the right medial
temporal lobe and medial cerebellum, and temporal lobe and medial cerebellum, and
the anterior cingulate bilaterally. With this the anterior cingulate bilaterally. With this
study design, however, it is not possible to study design, however, it is not possible to
know whether this effect can be explained know whether this effect can be explained
by sampling bias (i.e. the older the patients, by sampling bias (i.e. the older the patients,
the more likely they are to be drawn from the more likely they are to be drawn from
poor outcome chronically ill samples) or poor outcome chronically ill samples) or
whether this reflects progressive changes whether this reflects progressive changes
that one might actually see within individ- that one might actually see within individ-
uals over time. uals over time.
It could be the case that being psychotic It could be the case that being psychotic
is in some way toxic to the brain and that is in some way toxic to the brain and that
by controlling the psychosis with anti- by controlling the psychosis with anti-
psychotic medication, the progression of psychotic medication, the progression of
brain abnormalities might be limited. An brain abnormalities might be limited. An
MRI study in never-treated chronic schizo- MRI study in never-treated chronic schizo-
phrenia patients (ill for over 10 years) in phrenia patients (ill for over 10 years) in
South India (McCreadie South India (McCreadie et al et al, 2002) found , 2002) found
no association between illness duration and no association between illness duration and
ventricular volume. Ho ventricular volume. Ho et al et al (2003) studied (2003) studied
156 patients with a first episode of schizo- 156 patients with a first episode of schizo-
phrenia and also failed to detect any signif- phrenia and also failed to detect any signif-
icant correlations between duration of icant correlations between duration of
untreated psychosis and brain volumetric untreated psychosis and brain volumetric
measures. Alternatively, the progression of measures. Alternatively, the progression of
brain changes might be self-limiting, with brain changes might be self-limiting, with
maximal differences achieved in the first maximal differences achieved in the first
years of the illness. Pursuing this possibility years of the illness. Pursuing this possibility
requires studying patients early in the requires studying patients early in the
course of their illness and carrying out course of their illness and carrying out
follow-up scans. follow-up scans.
Studies of first-episode schizophrenia Studies of first-episode schizophrenia
(Lim (Lim et al et al, 1996; Zipursky , 1996; Zipursky et al et al, 1998) , 1998)
suggest that patients with first-episode suggest that patients with first-episode
psychosis differ from healthy comparison psychosis differ from healthy comparison
individuals on structural brain measures, individuals on structural brain measures,
but less so than observed in samples of but less so than observed in samples of
chronically ill patients with schizophrenia. chronically ill patients with schizophrenia.
At first glance, this might seem to support At first glance, this might seem to support
the view that progression of these abnorm- the view that progression of these abnorm-
alities is taking place over the course of the alities is taking place over the course of the
illness. As suggested above, an equally ten- illness. As suggested above, an equally ten-
able possibility is that a selection effect may able possibility is that a selection effect may
be taking place by which subjects with be taking place by which subjects with
more pronounced brain differences early more pronounced brain differences early
in their illness might be more likely to in their illness might be more likely to
find themselves in a poor outcome find themselves in a poor outcome
chronically ill group (Zipursky chronically ill group (Zipursky et al et al, ,
1998). Longitudinal studies are required 1998). Longitudinal studies are required
in order to distinguish between these two in order to distinguish between these two
hypotheses. hypotheses.
Longitudinal follow-up studies of Longitudinal follow-up studies of
patients with first-episode psychosis have patients with first-episode psychosis have
yielded conflicting results. Gur and collea- yielded conflicting results. Gur and collea-
gues described changes in MRI measures gues described changes in MRI measures
in 20 patients with first-episode schizo- in 20 patients with first-episode schizo-
phrenia, 20 previously treated patients phrenia, 20 previously treated patients
and 17 controls studied twice over periods and 17 controls studied twice over periods
ranging from 12 to 68 months ranging from 12 to 68 months (Gur (Gur et et
al al, 1998); patients with first- , 1998); patients with first-episode episode
psychosis had more pronounced left frontal psychosis had more pronounced left frontal
lobe volume reductions than previously lobe volume reductions than previously
treated patients and greater bilateral tissue treated patients and greater bilateral tissue
reductions in the temporal lobes. However, reductions in the temporal lobes. However,
greater reductions in frontal and temporal greater reductions in frontal and temporal
volumes were highly correlated with volumes were highly correlated with
greater medication doses in the patients greater medication doses in the patients
with first-episode psychosis but not in with first-episode psychosis but not in
previously treated patients. Wood previously treated patients. Wood et al et al
(2001) in their longitudinal MRI study of (2001) in their longitudinal MRI study of
30 patients with first-episode psychosis, 30 patients with first-episode psychosis,
12 patients with established schizophrenia 12 patients with established schizophrenia
and 26 control subjects identified signifi- and 26 control subjects identified signifi-
cant reductions in whole brain volume that cant reductions in whole brain volume that
were most apparent in the early phase of were most apparent in the early phase of
the illness and showed a greater loss with the illness and showed a greater loss with
greater inter-scan interval over a 4-year greater inter-scan interval over a 4-year
period. In a recent more detailed analysis period. In a recent more detailed analysis
of this cohort, this loss of brain volume of this cohort, this loss of brain volume
was explained by grey matter loss in dorsal was explained by grey matter loss in dorsal
prefrontal and parietal cortical regions (Sun prefrontal and parietal cortical regions (Sun
et al et al, 2003). Cahn , 2003). Cahn et al et al (2002) have (2002) have
described decreases in total grey matter described decreases in total grey matter
volume and increases in lateral ventricle volume and increases in lateral ventricle
volume in 34 patients with first-episode volume in 34 patients with first-episode
schizophrenia compared with 36 healthy schizophrenia compared with 36 healthy
comparison subjects scanned over a 1-year comparison subjects scanned over a 1-year
interval. The decrease in global grey matter interval. The decrease in global grey matter
volume was, however, significantly corre- volume was, however, significantly corre-
lated with higher cumulative doses of anti- lated with higher cumulative doses of anti-
psychotic medication. That the association psychotic medication. That the association
between medication dose and duration has between medication dose and duration has
not been evident in studies of more chroni- not been evident in studies of more chroni-
cally ill patients suggests that there may be cally ill patients suggests that there may be
a ceiling effect such that once the differ- a ceiling effect such that once the differ-
ences are apparent early in treatment, little ences are apparent early in treatment, little
s 9 s 9
KESHAVAN E T AL KESHAVAN E T AL
further progression takes place (Lieberman further progression takes place (Lieberman
et al et al, 2003). , 2003).
Medications may explain some, but not Medications may explain some, but not
all, of the structural brain abnormalities all, of the structural brain abnormalities
reported in schizophrenia. Differences in reported in schizophrenia. Differences in
ventricular volume have been reported in ventricular volume have been reported in
studies prior to the introduction of anti- studies prior to the introduction of anti-
psychotic medications in never-treated psychotic medications in never-treated
patients (McCreadie patients (McCreadie et al et al, 2002) and in , 2002) and in
unaffected (and untreated) family members unaffected (and untreated) family members
(Cannon (Cannon et al et al, 1998; Sharma , 1998; Sharma et al et al, 1998). , 1998).
Smaller intracranial volumes have been Smaller intracranial volumes have been
reported in both affected and unaffected reported in both affected and unaffected
monozygotic twins who are discordant monozygotic twins who are discordant
for schizophrenia, suggesting that genetic for schizophrenia, suggesting that genetic
risk may contribute to the expression risk may contribute to the expression
of the brain abnormalities reported in of the brain abnormalities reported in
schizophrenia (Baare schizophrenia (Baare et al et al, 2001). , 2001).
That brain findings are present at the That brain findings are present at the
time of the first episode does not establish time of the first episode does not establish
that they have been present or stable since that they have been present or stable since
birth. Just as schizophrenia may evolve birth. Just as schizophrenia may evolve
through a prodromal stage in many individ- through a prodromal stage in many individ-
uals, it is possible that the brain changes are uals, it is possible that the brain changes are
also evolving during this time and driving also evolving during this time and driving
the clinical deterioration characteristic of the clinical deterioration characteristic of
the prodromal period. The recent interest the prodromal period. The recent interest
in identifying individuals at ultra-high risk in identifying individuals at ultra-high risk
for developing psychosis (Phillips for developing psychosis (Phillips et al et al, ,
2002) allows imaging of patients prior to 2002) allows imaging of patients prior to
and after emergence of the illness and there- and after emergence of the illness and there-
by study of the neurobiology of transition by study of the neurobiology of transition
to psychosis. Individuals at genetic risk for to psychosis. Individuals at genetic risk for
developing schizophrenia had smaller developing schizophrenia had smaller
volumes of the left amygdalahippocampal volumes of the left amygdalahippocampal
complex and thalamic nuclei than controls complex and thalamic nuclei than controls
(Lawrie (Lawrie et al et al, 2001; Keshavan , 2001; Keshavan et al et al, ,
2002 2002a a). In the Edinburgh High Risk Study, ). In the Edinburgh High Risk Study,
over a 2-year follow-up period, at-risk over a 2-year follow-up period, at-risk
participants as a group did not show participants as a group did not show
greater regional brain volume changes than greater regional brain volume changes than
healthy controls, although at-risk partici- healthy controls, although at-risk partici-
pants with psychotic symptoms showed pants with psychotic symptoms showed
greater changes over the follow-up period greater changes over the follow-up period
than those without psychotic symptoms than those without psychotic symptoms
(Miller (Miller et al et al, 2002). Pantelis , 2002). Pantelis et al et al (2003 (2003a a) )
carried out a longitudinal study of individ- carried out a longitudinal study of individ-
uals treated in the PACE clinic in uals treated in the PACE clinic in
Melbourne, a specialist service for people Melbourne, a specialist service for people
at ultra-high risk for psychosis (for defini- at ultra-high risk for psychosis (for defini-
tion of criteria see Yung tion of criteria see Yung et al et al, 1996), which , 1996), which
involved baseline and 12-month follow-up involved baseline and 12-month follow-up
scans. Of the 75 participants who had a scans. Of the 75 participants who had a
baseline scan, 23 developed psychosis and baseline scan, 23 developed psychosis and
52 did not. At their initial scan, those 52 did not. At their initial scan, those
who later became psychotic had less grey who later became psychotic had less grey
matter in the right medial temporal, lateral matter in the right medial temporal, lateral
temporal and inferior frontal cortex and in temporal and inferior frontal cortex and in
the cingulate cortex bilaterally. Ten indi- the cingulate cortex bilaterally. Ten indi-
viduals who were rescanned had developed viduals who were rescanned had developed
psychosis in the follow-up period and 11 psychosis in the follow-up period and 11
had not. Grey matter volume reductions had not. Grey matter volume reductions
were more pronounced in those who were more pronounced in those who
became psychotic, suggesting that an active became psychotic, suggesting that an active
disease process may be taking place in the disease process may be taking place in the
brain. Some of the patients received anti- brain. Some of the patients received anti-
psychotic medication in the interval psychotic medication in the interval
between scans, so treatment cannot be between scans, so treatment cannot be
ruled out as an explanation for the differen- ruled out as an explanation for the differen-
tial changes found in those who became tial changes found in those who became
psychotic. The absence of an age-matched psychotic. The absence of an age-matched
healthy comparison group further limits healthy comparison group further limits
the interpretation of this study. New the interpretation of this study. New
techniques, such as diffusion tensor techniques, such as diffusion tensor
imaging, may provide important opportu- imaging, may provide important opportu-
nities to study brain development longi- nities to study brain development longi-
tudinally in individuals in the early stages tudinally in individuals in the early stages
of schizophrenia (Begre of schizophrenia (Begre et al et al, 2003). , 2003).
Cognition, electrophysiology Cognition, electrophysiology
and functional neuroimaging and functional neuroimaging
studies studies
In general, cognitive studies of early psy- In general, cognitive studies of early psy-
chosis have mirrored the findings in chronic chosis have mirrored the findings in chronic
schizophrenia, with a similar pattern of im- schizophrenia, with a similar pattern of im-
pairments in executive function, attention pairments in executive function, attention
and memory being identified (Heinrichs & and memory being identified (Heinrichs &
Zakzanis, 1998). However, the magnitude Zakzanis, 1998). However, the magnitude
of the impairments found in some of these of the impairments found in some of these
studies indicates a smaller magnitude of studies indicates a smaller magnitude of
deficits, although this may depend on the deficits, although this may depend on the
particular domain being examined. This particular domain being examined. This
has been shown both when tests are orga- has been shown both when tests are orga-
nised into sub-batteries by domain (e.g. nised into sub-batteries by domain (e.g.
Hoff Hoff et al et al, 1992; Bilder , 1992; Bilder et al et al, 2000) and , 2000) and
when individual tests are examined when individual tests are examined
(Mohamed (Mohamed et al et al, 1999). There has, how- , 1999). There has, how-
ever, been debate about whether the ever, been debate about whether the
impairment is generalised or whether there impairment is generalised or whether there
is evidence of a difference between cogni- is evidence of a difference between cogni-
tive domains (despite the similarity in tive domains (despite the similarity in
results). Some studies (e.g. Mohamed results). Some studies (e.g. Mohamed et et
al al, 1999) suggest that although small differ- , 1999) suggest that although small differ-
ences can be found between different ences can be found between different
domains, the effect size of the differences domains, the effect size of the differences
between domains is overshadowed by the between domains is overshadowed by the
much larger effect size of the difference much larger effect size of the difference
between the patients and the controls (in between the patients and the controls (in
the Mohamed the Mohamed et al et al study the largest effect study the largest effect
size for differences between domains was size for differences between domains was
7 70.52, but for the difference between 0.52, but for the difference between
patients and controls 25 out of 30 tests patients and controls 25 out of 30 tests
had a Cohens had a Cohens d d of greater than 0.75). of greater than 0.75).
Although this may be partly attributed to Although this may be partly attributed to
poor matching of tests assessing different poor matching of tests assessing different
domains, it also suggests that the difference domains, it also suggests that the difference
between domains might not be clinically between domains might not be clinically
meaningful. Other authors have suggested meaningful. Other authors have suggested
that although a generalised deficit is that although a generalised deficit is
present, there is a differential impairment. present, there is a differential impairment.
This is most often found to be in the area This is most often found to be in the area
of memory and learning (e.g. Saykin of memory and learning (e.g. Saykin et al et al, ,
1994; Hutton 1994; Hutton et al et al, 1998) although the , 1998) although the
domains of attention and/or executive skills domains of attention and/or executive skills
are also the lower scores in the profile (e.g. are also the lower scores in the profile (e.g.
Albus Albus et al et al, 1996). Saykin , 1996). Saykin et al et al (1994) and (1994) and
Bilder Bilder et al et al (2000) utilised standardised (2000) utilised standardised
residualised scores as a means to overcome residualised scores as a means to overcome
the problems associated with poorly the problems associated with poorly
matched tasks. They both found that verbal matched tasks. They both found that verbal
memory and learning scores were lower memory and learning scores were lower
than predicted on the basis of other scores, than predicted on the basis of other scores,
providing support for a differential impair- providing support for a differential impair-
ment. In contrast, in the study by Weickert ment. In contrast, in the study by Weickert
et al et al (2000), in which groups of patients (2000), in which groups of patients
were defined according to the extent of a were defined according to the extent of a
generalised intellectual impairment, consis- generalised intellectual impairment, consis-
tent deficits on the Wisconsin Card Sorting tent deficits on the Wisconsin Card Sorting
Test (WCST) were found, providing further Test (WCST) were found, providing further
evidence for differential impairment in evidence for differential impairment in
executive function. executive function.
Such data, supporting a differential Such data, supporting a differential
rather than generalised impairment, are rather than generalised impairment, are
also consistent with the findings from brain also consistent with the findings from brain
structural (described above) and functional structural (described above) and functional
imaging studies implicating regions of the imaging studies implicating regions of the
prefrontal cortex and their connections prefrontal cortex and their connections
with other areas, particularly subcortical with other areas, particularly subcortical
and limbic regions (Liddle and limbic regions (Liddle et al et al, 2000; , 2000;
Pantelis Pantelis et al et al, 2002). The most consistent , 2002). The most consistent
finding in schizophrenia has been of hypo- finding in schizophrenia has been of hypo-
frontality, which is most apparent when frontality, which is most apparent when
patients are tested while undertaking patients are tested while undertaking
neuropsychological tasks relevant to the neuropsychological tasks relevant to the
prefrontal cortex (Velakoulis & Pantelis, prefrontal cortex (Velakoulis & Pantelis,
1996; Davidson & Heinrichs, 2003), 1996; Davidson & Heinrichs, 2003),
although this notion has been challenged although this notion has been challenged
(Manoach (Manoach et al et al, 1999; Callicott , 1999; Callicott et al et al, ,
2000). In their meta-analysis of 155 struc- 2000). In their meta-analysis of 155 struc-
tural (MRI) and functional (positron tural (MRI) and functional (positron
emission tomography and single photon emission tomography and single photon
emission tomography) imaging studies of emission tomography) imaging studies of
frontal and temporal lobe regions, frontal and temporal lobe regions,
Davidson & Heinrichs (2003) found that Davidson & Heinrichs (2003) found that
hypofrontality during cognitive activation hypofrontality during cognitive activation
showed the strongest effect and distin- showed the strongest effect and distin-
guished approximately half of schizo- guished approximately half of schizo-
phrenia patients from healthy controls phrenia patients from healthy controls
(Cohens (Cohens d d7 70.81; for resting studies, 0.81; for resting studies,
d d7 70.65), whereas temporal lobe function 0.65), whereas temporal lobe function
did not discriminate the groups. In contrast, did not discriminate the groups. In contrast,
for structural imaging, the largest effect for structural imaging, the largest effect
sizes were found for left superior temporal sizes were found for left superior temporal
gyrus and left and right hippocampal gyrus and left and right hippocampal
volumes ( volumes (d d7 70.55, 0.55, 7 70.55, 0.55, 7 70.58, 0.58,
respectively). A preliminary meta-analysis respectively). A preliminary meta-analysis
of 14 functional MRI studies found that of 14 functional MRI studies found that
resting scans, regardless of cognitive resting scans, regardless of cognitive
task use, differed between patients with task use, differed between patients with
s10 s10
NEUROBIOLOGY OF EARLY P SYCHOS I S NEUROBIOLOGY OF EARLY P SYCHOSI S
schizophrenia and control individuals, schizophrenia and control individuals,
whereas patients displayed less robust whereas patients displayed less robust
activation to cognitive challenge (Kinder- activation to cognitive challenge (Kinder-
mann mann et al et al, 1997). Although such meta- , 1997). Although such meta-
analyses are informative, available studies analyses are informative, available studies
have not been able to address some key have not been able to address some key
questions, including: (a) other brain regions questions, including: (a) other brain regions
in which abnor in which abnormal function has been iden- mal function has been iden-
tified (e.g. Carter tified (e.g. Carter et al et al, 1997; Haznedar , 1997; Haznedar et et
al al, 1997; Yucel , 1997; Yucel et al et al, 2002); (b) the inter- , 2002); (b) the inter-
action between different regions that is action between different regions that is
currently relevant to the notion of disturbed currently relevant to the notion of disturbed
connectivity (e.g. Fletcher connectivity (e.g. Fletcher et al et al, 1999); and , 1999); and
(c) the relationship between structural and (c) the relationship between structural and
functional imaging measures (e.g. Wein- functional imaging measures (e.g. Wein-
berger berger et al et al, 1992; Bertolino , 1992; Bertolino et al et al, 2000; , 2000;
Bilder Bilder et al et al, 2000; , 2000; Callicott Callicott et al et al, 2000). , 2000).
Further, meta- Further, meta-analyses have not addressed analyses have not addressed
the importance of controlling for behav- the importance of controlling for behav-
ioural performance on tasks used during ioural performance on tasks used during
activation studies. For example, in the activation studies. For example, in the
studies by Manoach studies by Manoach et al et al (1999) and by (1999) and by
Callicott Callicott et al et al (2000) patients showing only (2000) patients showing only
a slight impairment in performance on a slight impairment in performance on
graded tasks of executive function had graded tasks of executive function had
greater rather than less activation in dorsal greater rather than less activation in dorsal
prefrontal cortex. prefrontal cortex.
The current functional imaging litera- The current functional imaging litera-
ture is also limited in addressing issues such ture is also limited in addressing issues such
as illness stage and medication-related as illness stage and medication-related
effects, as there are relatively few studies effects, as there are relatively few studies
in the earliest stages of psychosis, especially in the earliest stages of psychosis, especially
in neuroleptic-nave or unmedicated in neuroleptic-nave or unmedicated
patients and even fewer in high-risk popu- patients and even fewer in high-risk popu-
lations. In the resting study of 70 unmedi- lations. In the resting study of 70 unmedi-
cated patients with schizophrenia, who cated patients with schizophrenia, who
had at least 4 weeks off medication, Siegel had at least 4 weeks off medication, Siegel
and colleagues (Miller and colleagues (Miller et al et al, 2002), found , 2002), found
reduced activity in medial rather than dor- reduced activity in medial rather than dor-
sal prefrontal cortex and in associated re- sal prefrontal cortex and in associated re-
gions of striatum and thalamus. Similarly, gions of striatum and thalamus. Similarly,
Stevens Stevens et al et al (1998) found that inferior (1998) found that inferior
and ventral regions were hypofunctioning. and ventral regions were hypofunctioning.
However, such studies do not take account However, such studies do not take account
of the long-term effects of medication and of the long-term effects of medication and
illness duration. In con illness duration. In contrast, Barch trast, Barch et al et al
(2001), in their well- (2001), in their well-designed functional designed functional
MRI study examined neuroleptic-nave first MRI study examined neuroleptic-nave first
episode patients with schizophrenia using a episode patients with schizophrenia using a
context-dependent working memory task context-dependent working memory task
and found that dorsolateral prefrontal cor- and found that dorsolateral prefrontal cor-
tex, rather than other prefrontal regions, tex, rather than other prefrontal regions,
was specifically implicated from the outset was specifically implicated from the outset
of illness. These results are consistent with of illness. These results are consistent with
the findings of impaired working memory the findings of impaired working memory
deficits in first-episode psychosis (Hutton deficits in first-episode psychosis (Hutton
et al et al, 1998; Proffitt , 1998; Proffitt et al et al, 2000; Wood , 2000; Wood et et
al al, 2002). Two other studies in neuro- , 2002). Two other studies in neuro-
leptic-nave patients confirmed hypo- leptic-nave patients confirmed hypo-
frontality at illness onset (Parellada frontality at illness onset (Parellada et al et al, ,
1998; Riehemann 1998; Riehemann et al et al, 2001). The only , 2001). The only
available functional imaging study in a available functional imaging study in a
high-risk prepsychotic sample is consistent high-risk prepsychotic sample is consistent
with the findings at illness onset (Keshavan with the findings at illness onset (Keshavan
et al et al, 2002 , 2002b b), which is also consistent with ), which is also consistent with
deficits in working memory in a similar deficits in working memory in a similar
population (Wood population (Wood et al et al, 2003). , 2003).
In parallel with the debate about In parallel with the debate about
whether brain structural abnormalities are whether brain structural abnormalities are
static or progressive, various studies have static or progressive, various studies have
assessed the stability of cognitive deficits assessed the stability of cognitive deficits
over time and a few recent studies have over time and a few recent studies have
examined change in brain function longi- examined change in brain function longi-
tudinally. While the comparison of first tudinally. While the comparison of first
episode with chronic patients suggests some episode with chronic patients suggests some
decline in function, longitudinal studies decline in function, longitudinal studies
have found little change over the years have found little change over the years
following the first episode (Censits following the first episode (Censits et al et al, ,
1997; Gold 1997; Gold et al et al, 1999; Hoff , 1999; Hoff et al et al, 1999). , 1999).
In addition, a meta-analytical study of In addition, a meta-analytical study of
memory (Aleman memory (Aleman et al et al, 1999) found little , 1999) found little
difference in effect size between studies difference in effect size between studies
with chronic compared with first-episode with chronic compared with first-episode
populations. Relationships have been iden- populations. Relationships have been iden-
tified between change in clinical symptoms tified between change in clinical symptoms
and change in neuropsychological scores. and change in neuropsychological scores.
For example, some studies (Censits For example, some studies (Censits et al et al, ,
1997; Gold 1997; Gold et al et al, 1999; Brewer , 1999; Brewer et al et al, ,
2001; Schuepbach 2001; Schuepbach et al et al, 2002) have found , 2002) have found
that change in negative symptoms is asso- that change in negative symptoms is asso-
ciated with change in neuropsychological ciated with change in neuropsychological
scores, whereas another (Hoff scores, whereas another (Hoff et al et al, 1999) , 1999)
found a similar relationship with change found a similar relationship with change
in positive symptoms. These studies need in positive symptoms. These studies need
to be interpreted with caution, particularly to be interpreted with caution, particularly
as few have distinguished between primary as few have distinguished between primary
and secondary negative symptoms (Kirk- and secondary negative symptoms (Kirk-
patrick patrick et al et al, 2001). Overall, the longi- , 2001). Overall, the longi-
tudinal and some cross-sectional studies tudinal and some cross-sectional studies
(e.g. meta-analyses that compare the effect (e.g. meta-analyses that compare the effect
size associated with first-episode and size associated with first-episode and
chronic schizophrenia) support the view chronic schizophrenia) support the view
that fairly extensive cognitive deficits are that fairly extensive cognitive deficits are
present by the first episode of psychosis present by the first episode of psychosis
and that they are likely to be a stable, and that they are likely to be a stable,
ongoing, trait-like feature of the persons ongoing, trait-like feature of the persons
illness. This impairment appears to be illness. This impairment appears to be
relatively unaffected by the persons level relatively unaffected by the persons level
of clinical symptoms. of clinical symptoms.
In this context, it is worth noting the In this context, it is worth noting the
unreliability of the term first episode and unreliability of the term first episode and
the potential implications this has for defin- the potential implications this has for defin-
ing the onset of the cognitive deficits in psy- ing the onset of the cognitive deficits in psy-
chosis. The term first episode has been chosis. The term first episode has been
used to cover a relatively long period of used to cover a relatively long period of
time. For example, in the Bilder time. For example, in the Bilder et al et al
(2000) study, 21% of participants were (2000) study, 21% of participants were
tested more than a year after the onset of tested more than a year after the onset of
treatment, while the mean illness duration treatment, while the mean illness duration
in the Saykin in the Saykin et al et al (1994) study was 2 years. (1994) study was 2 years.
This is further confused by the fact that the This is further confused by the fact that the
term illness duration could be used to term illness duration could be used to
cover the duration of untreated psychosis cover the duration of untreated psychosis
before contact with the psychiatric service. before contact with the psychiatric service.
Caution in accurately defining the term first Caution in accurately defining the term first
episode is needed to ensure that active episode is needed to ensure that active
changes are occurring in the earliest phase changes are occurring in the earliest phase
of illness. For example, in a recent study of illness. For example, in a recent study
of the cognitive abilities of patients with of the cognitive abilities of patients with
first-episode psychosis who were within 6 first-episode psychosis who were within 6
months of psychosis onset, in comparison months of psychosis onset, in comparison
with a group of patients with chronic with a group of patients with chronic
schizophrenia and normal control partici- schizophrenia and normal control partici-
pants (Wood pants (Wood et al et al, 2002), the patients with , 2002), the patients with
first-episode psychosis had no impairment first-episode psychosis had no impairment
on a visual associative memory task, on a visual associative memory task,
whereas patients with chronic schizo- whereas patients with chronic schizo-
phrenia were significantly impaired. In phrenia were significantly impaired. In
contrast, the impairments of both patient contrast, the impairments of both patient
groups on a spatial working memory task groups on a spatial working memory task
were very similar. This suggests that there were very similar. This suggests that there
may be some differential impairment in may be some differential impairment in
cognitive function over the illness course, cognitive function over the illness course,
with some present at or prior to the onset with some present at or prior to the onset
of the disorder, whereas others arise with of the disorder, whereas others arise with
prolonged psychosis. Clearly, longitudinal prolonged psychosis. Clearly, longitudinal
studies are needed from the earliest phase studies are needed from the earliest phase
of psychotic disorders to elucidate whether of psychotic disorders to elucidate whether
deficits develop as the illness progresses. deficits develop as the illness progresses.
The limited available longitudinal func- The limited available longitudinal func-
tional imaging studies have focused on the tional imaging studies have focused on the
effects of medication, and have demon- effects of medication, and have demon-
strated differences between typical and strated differences between typical and
atypical antipsychotics (Honey atypical antipsychotics (Honey et al et al, 1999; , 1999;
Liddle Liddle et al et al, 2000; Miller , 2000; Miller et al et al, 2001), , 2001),
suggesting some consistency with the suggesting some consistency with the
neuropsychological studies that have identi- neuropsychological studies that have identi-
fied improvement in neuropsychological fied improvement in neuropsychological
function with atypical neuroleptics function with atypical neuroleptics
(Meltzer & McGurk, 1999; Bilder (Meltzer & McGurk, 1999; Bilder et al et al, ,
2002). 2002).
Another approach that is helpful in ad- Another approach that is helpful in ad-
dressing the issue of whether neuropsycho- dressing the issue of whether neuropsycho-
logical and functional impairments are logical and functional impairments are
stable trait features of schizophrenia and stable trait features of schizophrenia and
psychosis is to examine neuropsychological psychosis is to examine neuropsychological
and brain activity in prepsychotic, high- and brain activity in prepsychotic, high-
risk, individuals. Neuropsychological inves- risk, individuals. Neuropsychological inves-
tigations have been performed as part of tigations have been performed as part of
investigations, including the long-term investigations, including the long-term
high-risk studies that followed children into high-risk studies that followed children into
adulthood, such as the New York, Stony adulthood, such as the New York, Stony
Brook, Copenhagen and Israeli High-Risk Brook, Copenhagen and Israeli High-Risk
Studies, whereas more recent strategies, ex- Studies, whereas more recent strategies, ex-
emplified by the Edinburgh High Risk, and emplified by the Edinburgh High Risk, and
Melbourne Ultra High-Risk Studies, have Melbourne Ultra High-Risk Studies, have
used alternative approaches in order to used alternative approaches in order to
increase the yield and reduce the period of increase the yield and reduce the period of
follow-up required. Various groups have follow-up required. Various groups have
adopted the ultra-high risk strategy and adopted the ultra-high risk strategy and
s11 s11
KESHAVAN E T AL KESHAVAN E T AL
results on neuropsychological functioning results on neuropsychological functioning
from these studies are beginning to emerge from these studies are beginning to emerge
(Cornblatt, 2002; Hambrecht (Cornblatt, 2002; Hambrecht et al et al, 2002; , 2002;
Brewer Brewer et al et al, 2003; Wood , 2003; Wood et al et al, 2003). , 2003).
The early high-risk studies are summarised The early high-risk studies are summarised
elsewhere in special issues of elsewhere in special issues of Schizophrenia Schizophrenia
Bulletin Bulletin in 1985 (vol. 11, issue 1) and 1987 in 1985 (vol. 11, issue 1) and 1987
(vol. 13, issue 3). Briefly, with respect to (vol. 13, issue 3). Briefly, with respect to
neuropsychology these earlier studies neuropsychology these earlier studies
focused on attention, with more limited focused on attention, with more limited
information available with respect to other information available with respect to other
cognitive domains (Weintraub, 1987; cognitive domains (Weintraub, 1987;
Mirsky Mirsky et al et al, 1995; Wolf & Cornblatt, , 1995; Wolf & Cornblatt,
1996). The New York High-Risk Study 1996). The New York High-Risk Study
has been most informative in this respect, has been most informative in this respect,
with the demonstration that childhood defi- with the demonstration that childhood defi-
cits in attention, motor skills and short- cits in attention, motor skills and short-
term memory, measured at 712 years term memory, measured at 712 years
of age, identified 58%, 75% and 83% of age, identified 58%, 75% and 83%
(respectively) of those who later developed (respectively) of those who later developed
a schizophrenia-related psychosis a schizophrenia-related psychosis
(Erlenmeyer- (Erlenmeyer-Kimling Kimling et al et al, 2000). How- , 2000). How-
ever, other groups have only partly repli- ever, other groups have only partly repli-
cated these findings. The Edinburgh High cated these findings. The Edinburgh High
Risk Study found that verbal memory and Risk Study found that verbal memory and
executive function did distinguish between executive function did distinguish between
young relatives with and young relatives with and without psychotic without psychotic
symptoms during follow-up; other cogni- symptoms during follow-up; other cogni-
tive measures showed few clear differences tive measures showed few clear differences
(Cosway (Cosway et al et al, 2002). This lack of replica- , 2002). This lack of replica-
tion may depend on the domains assessed tion may depend on the domains assessed
and the timing of the assessment (Andersen, and the timing of the assessment (Andersen,
2003; Pantelis 2003; Pantelis et al et al, 2003 , 2003c c; Wood ; Wood et al et al, ,
2003 2003). ).
The more recent studies have compre- The more recent studies have compre-
hensively assessed neuropsychological hensively assessed neuropsychological
function, although not all data have been function, although not all data have been
published as yet. In the studies by the published as yet. In the studies by the
Edinburgh group, slightly lower levels of Edinburgh group, slightly lower levels of
global cognitive function were identified global cognitive function were identified
in a high-risk cohort than in a group in a high-risk cohort than in a group
of matched controls (Byrne of matched controls (Byrne et al et al, 1999). , 1999).
When this difference was controlled When this difference was controlled
for, the high-risk group was significantly for, the high-risk group was significantly
impaired only on a global memory test impaired only on a global memory test
and on a sentence completion test that and on a sentence completion test that
implicates executive functions. However, implicates executive functions. However,
none of the participants in that study had none of the participants in that study had
become acutely psychotic at the time of become acutely psychotic at the time of
publication, which highlights one of the publication, which highlights one of the
problems of research in high-risk popula- problems of research in high-risk popula-
tions, namely, that it will remain unclear tions, namely, that it will remain unclear
to what extent neuropsychological to what extent neuropsychological
deficits identified premorbidly are predic- deficits identified premorbidly are predic-
tive of the later onset of schizophrenia until tive of the later onset of schizophrenia until
there has been an adequate follow-up there has been an adequate follow-up
period to determine who will develop period to determine who will develop
psychosis, such as in the New York High- psychosis, such as in the New York High-
Risk Study discussed above. Another Risk Study discussed above. Another
approach has been to identify cases from approach has been to identify cases from
long-term population-based follow-up long-term population-based follow-up
studies, as in the Dunedin Multidisciplinary studies, as in the Dunedin Multidisciplinary
Health and Development Study (Poulton Health and Development Study (Poulton et et
al al, 2000), which identified reduced intelli- , 2000), which identified reduced intelli-
gence and receptive language skills in gence and receptive language skills in
children between the ages of 3 and 9 years children between the ages of 3 and 9 years
who later fulfilled criteria for schizo- who later fulfilled criteria for schizo-
phreniform disorder (Cannon phreniform disorder (Cannon et al et al, 2002). , 2002).
Although difficult to set up and under- Although difficult to set up and under-
take, such an approach is particularly infor- take, such an approach is particularly infor-
mative as it does not focus only on the mative as it does not focus only on the
offspring of patients with schizophrenia. offspring of patients with schizophrenia.
Although these studies provide evidence Although these studies provide evidence
that early neuropsychological deficits may that early neuropsychological deficits may
be markers of impending illness later in life, be markers of impending illness later in life,
the question of specificity of these findings the question of specificity of these findings
to schizophrenia remains unclear. to schizophrenia remains unclear.
In order to address the long follow-up In order to address the long follow-up
period required and the low number of period required and the low number of
individuals developing psychosis in the individuals developing psychosis in the
high-risk and population-based studies high-risk and population-based studies
described, the Melbourne group have described, the Melbourne group have
utilised an ultra-high-risk strategy to utilised an ultra-high-risk strategy to
identify young people at imminent risk of identify young people at imminent risk of
developing a psychotic illness. Using this developing a psychotic illness. Using this
approach about 40% of individuals make approach about 40% of individuals make
the transition to psychosis within 12 the transition to psychosis within 12
months of presentation (Yung months of presentation (Yung et al et al, ,
1998). Initial findings (including neuro- 1998). Initial findings (including neuro-
imaging findings described earlier) at base- imaging findings described earlier) at base-
line, prior to illness transition, have line, prior to illness transition, have
identified deficits in spatial working identified deficits in spatial working
memory ability in those who subsequently memory ability in those who subsequently
developed psychosis (Wood developed psychosis (Wood et al et al, 2003), , 2003),
which were similar to those observed in which were similar to those observed in
patients with schizophreniform psychosis patients with schizophreniform psychosis
and established schizophrenia (Wood and established schizophrenia (Wood et et
al al, 2002). Deficits in olfactory function , 2002). Deficits in olfactory function
are also found specifically in those develop- are also found specifically in those develop-
ing schizophrenia (Brewer ing schizophrenia (Brewer et al et al, 2003). In , 2003). In
contrast, preliminary findings indicate that contrast, preliminary findings indicate that
some other aspects of memory are not some other aspects of memory are not
impaired (Pantelis impaired (Pantelis et al et al, 2003 , 2003b b). These ). These
data, taken together with findings in data, taken together with findings in
patients with first-episode and chronic patients with first-episode and chronic
psychosis using the same tasks, provide psychosis using the same tasks, provide
further evidence that particular domains further evidence that particular domains
of function are differentially impaired, and of function are differentially impaired, and
raise the possibility that other domains raise the possibility that other domains
may only become apparent as the illness may only become apparent as the illness
develops a more chronic course. develops a more chronic course.
A complementary approach to examin- A complementary approach to examin-
ing brain function uses event-related brain ing brain function uses event-related brain
potentials (ERPs), which can track changes potentials (ERPs), which can track changes
in brain functioning over a short period of in brain functioning over a short period of
time, thereby providing dynamic infor- time, thereby providing dynamic infor-
mation about the progression of brain mation about the progression of brain
activity during cognitive tasks. Although a activity during cognitive tasks. Although a
number of ERP components have been number of ERP components have been
studied in schizophrenia, most work in studied in schizophrenia, most work in
early psychosis has focused on mismatch early psychosis has focused on mismatch
negativity and P300 (for review see negativity and P300 (for review see
Salisbury Salisbury et al et al, 2003). The mismatch , 2003). The mismatch
negativity is a negative auditory negativity is a negative auditory ERP, ERP,
occurring 150250 ms after presentation occurring 150250ms after presentation
of deviant stimuli, which are elicited by of deviant stimuli, which are elicited by
interspersing infrequent sounds (differing interspersing infrequent sounds (differing
in pitch, duration, intensity or spatial loca- in pitch, duration, intensity or spatial loca-
tion) in a sequence of repetitive sounds. The tion) in a sequence of repetitive sounds. The
mismatch negativity is evoked automati- mismatch negativity is evoked automati-
cally, is preconscious, is thought to have cally, is preconscious, is thought to have
generators in auditory cortices but may also generators in auditory cortices but may also
have a prefrontal generator (Salisbury have a prefrontal generator (Salisbury et al et al, ,
2003), and may reflect activity of 2003), and may reflect activity of N N- -
methyl- methyl-D D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors -aspartate (NMDA) receptors
(Umbricht (Umbricht et al et al, 2000, 2003). Mismatch , 2000, 2003). Mismatch
negativity is reduced in patients with estab- negativity is reduced in patients with estab-
lished schizophrenia (Catts lished schizophrenia (Catts et al et al, 1995; , 1995;
Javitt Javitt et al et al, 2000 , 2000b b), has been shown to be ), has been shown to be
specific to schizophrenia (Catts specific to schizophrenia (Catts et al et al, ,
1995; Umbricht 1995; Umbricht et al et al, 2003), and these , 2003), and these
deficits (considered to reflect transient deficits (considered to reflect transient
memory traces) have been related to memory traces) have been related to
impaired performance on an attentional impaired performance on an attentional
task (Javitt task (Javitt et al et al, 2000 , 2000b b). In contrast, ). In contrast,
patients with first-episode psychosis early patients with first-episode psychosis early
in their course of illness are unimpaired in their course of illness are unimpaired
(Salisbury (Salisbury et al et al, 2002), whereas patients , 2002), whereas patients
within the first 3 years of illness show a within the first 3 years of illness show a
mild deficit (Javitt mild deficit (Javitt et al et al, 2000 , 2000a a). Prelimi- ). Prelimi-
nary longitudinal findings of a small sample nary longitudinal findings of a small sample
of patients over the first 2 years of illness of patients over the first 2 years of illness
have been presented by Salisbury have been presented by Salisbury et al et al
(2001), and these authors consider that (2001), and these authors consider that
the mismatch negativity may index progres- the mismatch negativity may index progres-
sive neurodegeneration in schizophrenia, sive neurodegeneration in schizophrenia,
involving superior temporal gyrus involving superior temporal gyrus
(Salisbury (Salisbury et al et al, 2003), which may be , 2003), which may be
mediated by NMDA (Olney mediated by NMDA (Olney et al et al, 1999). , 1999).
However, a genetic contribution has also However, a genetic contribution has also
been suggested by recent evidence that been suggested by recent evidence that
patients with schizophrenia and their first- patients with schizophrenia and their first-
degree relatives show deficits in mismatch degree relatives show deficits in mismatch
negativity (Michie negativity (Michie et al et al, 2002), but Jessen , 2002), but Jessen
et al et al (2001) found that relatives were im- (2001) found that relatives were im-
paired but patients did not differ from paired but patients did not differ from
controls. Further, in a study of children at controls. Further, in a study of children at
high risk for schizophrenia, mismatch nega- high risk for schizophrenia, mismatch nega-
tivity showed some reduction (Schreiber tivity showed some reduction (Schreiber et et
al al, 1992). These findings indicate that , 1992). These findings indicate that
further studies from the earliest phase of further studies from the earliest phase of
psychosis, in prepsychotic individuals, and psychosis, in prepsychotic individuals, and
studies of unaffected family members are studies of unaffected family members are
required to assess the evolution and charac- required to assess the evolution and charac-
teristics of this marker of pre-attentive pro- teristics of this marker of pre-attentive pro-
cessing. If mismatch negativity does provide cessing. If mismatch negativity does provide
an index of progressive changes in schizo- an index of progressive changes in schizo-
phrenia, and if they are found to be related phrenia, and if they are found to be related
to the structural imaging findings described to the structural imaging findings described
above, this index may provide information above, this index may provide information
s12 s12
NEUROBIOLOGY OF EARLY P SYCHOS I S NEUROBIOLOGY OF EARLY P SYCHOSI S
about the mechanisms underlying such about the mechanisms underlying such
changes. changes.
In contrast to the mismatch negativity In contrast to the mismatch negativity
which is pre-attentive, the P300 occurs to which is pre-attentive, the P300 occurs to
a stimulus that is actively detected and pro- a stimulus that is actively detected and pro-
cessed and is elicited by the oddball cessed and is elicited by the oddball
paradigm (for review see Salisbury paradigm (for review see Salisbury et al et al, ,
2003). Because subjects actively attend to 2003). Because subjects actively attend to
detect the rare occurrence of an infrequent detect the rare occurrence of an infrequent
target, deficits of or disruption to selective target, deficits of or disruption to selective
attention processes will disrupt the P300. attention processes will disrupt the P300.
Typically, patients with chronic schizo- Typically, patients with chronic schizo-
phrenia show a robust reduction in P300 phrenia show a robust reduction in P300
amplitude, which is trait-like (Jeon & amplitude, which is trait-like (Jeon &
Polich, 2001; Salisbury Polich, 2001; Salisbury et al et al, 2003), and , 2003), and
these deficits are considered to reflect these deficits are considered to reflect
impairments in sustained attention and impairments in sustained attention and
higher level cognitive abilities, including higher level cognitive abilities, including
working memory (Kimble working memory (Kimble et al et al, 2000). , 2000).
Symptom remission and atypical neuro- Symptom remission and atypical neuro-
leptics have been associated with some leptics have been associated with some
increase in P300 (Ford increase in P300 (Ford et al et al, 1994; , 1994;
Umbricht Umbricht et al et al, 1998), although the impair- , 1998), although the impair-
ment does not normalise (Salisbury ment does not normalise (Salisbury et al et al, ,
2003). Further, Mathalon 2003). Further, Mathalon et al et al (2000) have (2000) have
shown that while auditory and visual P300s shown that while auditory and visual P300s
track symptom changes over time, only track symptom changes over time, only
auditory P300s remained abnormal when auditory P300s remained abnormal when
patients were least symptomatic, suggesting patients were least symptomatic, suggesting
that the latter was a trait marker. Examin- that the latter was a trait marker. Examin-
ation of neuroleptic-nave patients with ation of neuroleptic-nave patients with
first-episode psychosis indicates that the first-episode psychosis indicates that the
P300 abnormality is present prior to medi- P300 abnormality is present prior to medi-
cation (Radwan cation (Radwan et al et al, 1991; Hirayasu , 1991; Hirayasu et al et al, ,
1998). The early studies of individuals at 1998). The early studies of individuals at
genetic high risk for developing schizo- genetic high risk for developing schizo-
phrenia are reviewed elsewhere (Friedman phrenia are reviewed elsewhere (Friedman
& Squires-Wheeler, 1994). These studies & Squires-Wheeler, 1994). These studies
have found that P300 latencies are pro- have found that P300 latencies are pro-
longed in these individuals (Schreiber longed in these individuals (Schreiber et et
al al, 1992; Friedman & Squires-Wheeler, , 1992; Friedman & Squires-Wheeler,
1994), although there are no reports com- 1994), although there are no reports com-
paring those who subsequently developed paring those who subsequently developed
psychosis with those who did not. These psychosis with those who did not. These
studies are also consistent with P300 studies are also consistent with P300
abnormalities identified in unaffected abnormalities identified in unaffected
relatives of patients with schizophrenia relatives of patients with schizophrenia
(Blackwood (Blackwood et al et al, 1991; Frangou , 1991; Frangou et al et al, ,
1997; Turetsky 1997; Turetsky et al et al, 2000), which have , 2000), which have
also been related to neuropsychological also been related to neuropsychological
deficits observed in patients and their deficits observed in patients and their
relatives (Roxborough relatives (Roxborough et al et al, 1993). , 1993).
In the meta-analysis by Jeon & Polich In the meta-analysis by Jeon & Polich
(2001), smaller P300 amplitude was con- (2001), smaller P300 amplitude was con-
firmed in patients with schizophrenia com- firmed in patients with schizophrenia com-
pared with control subjects and differed in pared with control subjects and differed in
its effect size topography across the midline its effect size topography across the midline
and temporal electrode sites. These findings and temporal electrode sites. These findings
are consistent with evidence that the P300 are consistent with evidence that the P300
is reduced over the midline and that there is reduced over the midline and that there
is a left temporal abnormality, which has is a left temporal abnormality, which has
been associated with reduced volume of been associated with reduced volume of
the left posterior superior temporal gyrus the left posterior superior temporal gyrus
(McCarley (McCarley et al et al, 1993). Further, in patients , 1993). Further, in patients
with first-episode schizophrenia a smaller with first-episode schizophrenia a smaller
left temporal P300 was also associated with left temporal P300 was also associated with
left posterior superior temporal gyrus and left posterior superior temporal gyrus and
planum temporale volumes, whereas planum temporale volumes, whereas
patients with affective psychosis did not patients with affective psychosis did not
show these impairments or associations show these impairments or associations
(McCarley (McCarley et al et al, 2002). Left superior tem- , 2002). Left superior tem-
poral gyrus volumes have been associated poral gyrus volumes have been associated
with formal thought disorder (Shenton with formal thought disorder (Shenton et et
al al, 2001). This left temporal abnormality , 2001). This left temporal abnormality
has been described in patients who ceased has been described in patients who ceased
medication (Faux medication (Faux et al et al, 1993). A left- , 1993). A left-
lateralised P300 deficit has also been lateralised P300 deficit has also been
described in schizotypal personality described in schizotypal personality
disorder (Niznikiewicz disorder (Niznikiewicz et al et al, 2000). , 2000).
These studies of ERPs and their neuro- These studies of ERPs and their neuro-
biological correlates need to be examined biological correlates need to be examined
in the recent high-risk or ultra-high-risk in the recent high-risk or ultra-high-risk
studies, and may provide trait/state indices, studies, and may provide trait/state indices,
whereas longitudinal studies may provide whereas longitudinal studies may provide
insights about disease progression. insights about disease progression.
In vivo In vivo neurochemistry neurochemistry
Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS)
provides us with a non-invasive tool to in- provides us with a non-invasive tool to in-
vestigate metabolites in the living human vestigate metabolites in the living human
brain. This technique overcomes one major brain. This technique overcomes one major
limitation of post-mortem analysis: the limitation of post-mortem analysis: the
investigation of investigation of in vivo in vivo brain metabolites brain metabolites
during the peri-onset and early phases of during the peri-onset and early phases of
the illness and the investigation of medi- the illness and the investigation of medi-
cation effects on these metabolites. Much cation effects on these metabolites. Much
MRS work has focused on investigating MRS work has focused on investigating
phosphorus-containing ( phosphorus-containing (
31 31
P MRS) and P MRS) and
proton-containing metabolites ( proton-containing metabolites (
1 1
H MRS) H MRS)
(for reviews see Keshavan (for reviews see Keshavan et al et al, 2000; , 2000;
Stanley Stanley et al et al, 2000). , 2000).
31 31
P-MRS investigations in drug-nave P-MRS investigations in drug-nave
patients with first-episode psychosis suggest patients with first-episode psychosis suggest
increased membrane breakdown at the increased membrane breakdown at the
onset of psychosis (Pettegrew onset of psychosis (Pettegrew et al et al, 1991; , 1991;
Stanley Stanley et al et al, 1995; Fukuzako , 1995; Fukuzako et al et al, 1999) , 1999)
and in most studies there appears to be and in most studies there appears to be
reduced membrane generation in early reduced membrane generation in early
and chronic schizophrenia. Cell membrane and chronic schizophrenia. Cell membrane
changes occur prominently during cell gen- changes occur prominently during cell gen-
eration and synaptogenesis, but also with eration and synaptogenesis, but also with
degenerative processes, such as apoptotic degenerative processes, such as apoptotic
elimination of dendrites and axons (prun- elimination of dendrites and axons (prun-
ing) and cell death. Cell membrane altera- ing) and cell death. Cell membrane altera-
tions of patients with schizophrenia are tions of patients with schizophrenia are
also well documented in peripheral and also well documented in peripheral and
post-mortem brain tissue at different stages post-mortem brain tissue at different stages
of the disorder (for review see Berger of the disorder (for review see Berger et al et al, ,
2002). Such findings may reflect either a 2002). Such findings may reflect either a
reduction in glia-, synapto- and neuro- reduction in glia-, synapto- and neuro-
genesis associated with chronic schizo- genesis associated with chronic schizo-
phrenia and/or accelerated programmed phrenia and/or accelerated programmed
cell loss (apoptosis) and/or dendritic and cell loss (apoptosis) and/or dendritic and
axonal pruning at the onset of the disorder. axonal pruning at the onset of the disorder.
Studies of adolescent offspring at increased Studies of adolescent offspring at increased
genetic risk for schizophrenia show genetic risk for schizophrenia show
membrane alterations similar to those membrane alterations similar to those
observed in patients with early schizo- observed in patients with early schizo-
phrenia (Klemm phrenia (Klemm et al et al, 2001; Keshavan , 2001; Keshavan et et
al al, 2003 , 2003b b); these changes are more pro- ); these changes are more pro-
nounced in the at-risk adolescents who nounced in the at-risk adolescents who
have already begun to manifest psycho- have already begun to manifest psycho-
pathology (Keshavan pathology (Keshavan et al et al, 2003 , 2003b b). Inter- ). Inter-
estingly, patients with manic psychosis estingly, patients with manic psychosis
appear to have an increase in membrane appear to have an increase in membrane
precursors (Kato precursors (Kato et al et al, 1993), which may , 1993), which may
reflect a compensatory increase in cell reflect a compensatory increase in cell
generation and/or synaptogenesis during generation and/or synaptogenesis during
manic exacerbation of psychotic disorders. manic exacerbation of psychotic disorders.
Investigations using high-field Investigations using high-field
31 31
P MRS P MRS
(e.g. at 4T) in early psychosis are just (e.g. at 4T) in early psychosis are just
emerging (Theberge emerging (Theberge et al et al, 2002). , 2002).
Proton MRS provides us with a tool for Proton MRS provides us with a tool for
measuring measuring in vivo in vivo brain metabolites, brain metabolites,
including including N N-acetylaspartate (NAA), crea- -acetylaspartate (NAA), crea-
tine, choline, myo-inositol, glutamine, glu- tine, choline, myo-inositol, glutamine, glu-
tamate, glutathione and tamate, glutathione and g g-amino butyric -amino butyric
acid (GABA). acid (GABA). N N-acetylaspartate is mainly -acetylaspartate is mainly
synthesised in neurons and is therefore re- synthesised in neurons and is therefore re-
garded as a putative marker for neuronal garded as a putative marker for neuronal
loss or dysfunction (Urenjak loss or dysfunction (Urenjak et al et al, 1993; , 1993;
Rudkin & Arnold, 1999). However, NAA Rudkin & Arnold, 1999). However, NAA
levels also depend on the capacity of glial levels also depend on the capacity of glial
cells which are involved in the uptake and cells which are involved in the uptake and
degradation of this metabolite (Passani degradation of this metabolite (Passani et et
al al, 1998; Baslow, 2000; Bhakoo , 1998; Baslow, 2000; Bhakoo et al et al, ,
2001). 2001). N N-acetylaspartate is also a major -acetylaspartate is also a major
acetyl-donor for the elongation of long- acetyl-donor for the elongation of long-
chain fatty acids and is important for chain fatty acids and is important for
generation of membrane phospholipids, generation of membrane phospholipids,
the basic molecules of all cell membranes. the basic molecules of all cell membranes.
Furthermore, NAA is important for mito- Furthermore, NAA is important for mito-
chondrial metabolism and excitatory chondrial metabolism and excitatory
neurotransmission (Tsai & Coyle, 1995; neurotransmission (Tsai & Coyle, 1995;
Lim Lim et al et al, 1996). , 1996).
Reductions in NAA peaks were found Reductions in NAA peaks were found
in most studies of patients with chronic in most studies of patients with chronic
schizophrenia encompassing several differ- schizophrenia encompassing several differ-
ent brain regions (hippocampus, thalamus ent brain regions (hippocampus, thalamus
and frontal cortex), were variably present and frontal cortex), were variably present
in first-degree relatives, and were asso- in first-degree relatives, and were asso-
ciated with cortical atrophy and negative ciated with cortical atrophy and negative
symptoms (for discussion and references symptoms (for discussion and references
see Keshavan see Keshavan et al et al, 2000; Vance , 2000; Vance et al et al, ,
2000). 2000). N N-acetylaspartate reductions in the -acetylaspartate reductions in the
prefrontal cortex have been found to be prefrontal cortex have been found to be
associated with reduced physiological associated with reduced physiological
capacity for working memory as well as capacity for working memory as well as
with exaggerated responses of dopamine with exaggerated responses of dopamine
s13 s13
KESHAVAN E T AL KESHAVAN E T AL
neurons to amphetamine, a surrogate bio- neurons to amphetamine, a surrogate bio-
logical measure of positive symptoms logical measure of positive symptoms
(Weinberger (Weinberger et al et al, 2001). However, proton , 2001). However, proton
MRS studies in drug-nave patients with MRS studies in drug-nave patients with
first- first-episode psychosis have been less episode psychosis have been less
conclusive (Keshavan conclusive (Keshavan et al et al, 2000), and , 2000), and
the data suggest that neuronal integrity in the data suggest that neuronal integrity in
early phases of illness may still be intact early phases of illness may still be intact
and neuronal circuits only functionally and neuronal circuits only functionally
impaired (Bartha impaired (Bartha et al et al, 1997, 1999). , 1997, 1999). N N- -
acetylaspartate reductions have been found acetylaspartate reductions have been found
to be correlated with increased illness to be correlated with increased illness
duration (Ende duration (Ende et al et al, 2000) supporting the , 2000) supporting the
possibility of a progressive impairment of possibility of a progressive impairment of
neuronal integrity as the ill neuronal integrity as the illness unfolds. ness unfolds.
N N-acetylaspartate changes may also repre- -acetylaspartate changes may also repre-
sent dynamic measures of neuropathological sent dynamic measures of neuropathological
change as a function of illness and/or change change as a function of illness and/or change
(Bertolino (Bertolino et al et al, 2001). Future longitudinal , 2001). Future longitudinal
MRS studies before and after transition to MRS studies before and after transition to
psychosis may contribute to a better under- psychosis may contribute to a better under-
standing of the relevance of NAA findings standing of the relevance of NAA findings
in the early phase of schizophrenia and in the early phase of schizophrenia and
related disorders. related disorders.
DISCUSSION DISCUSSION
Structural imaging studies point to in- Structural imaging studies point to in-
creases in cerebrospinal fluid volumes and creases in cerebrospinal fluid volumes and
widespread grey matter reductions in vary- widespread grey matter reductions in vary-
ing degrees across samples of patients with ing degrees across samples of patients with
schizophrenia. These differences are more schizophrenia. These differences are more
prominent in patients with chronic psycho- prominent in patients with chronic psycho-
sis as compared with patients with first- sis as compared with patients with first-
episode psychosis and are also present, to a episode psychosis and are also present, to a
smaller degree, in unaffected relatives, smaller degree, in unaffected relatives,
unaffected co-twins and individuals at unaffected co-twins and individuals at
ultra-high risk for developing schizophrenia ultra-high risk for developing schizophrenia
and related disorders. These differences and related disorders. These differences
appear to deviate to some degree from appear to deviate to some degree from
normal with time but it is unclear whether normal with time but it is unclear whether
this is a direct effect of some antipsychotic this is a direct effect of some antipsychotic
medications or due to the illness process medications or due to the illness process
itself. Consistent with structural findings, itself. Consistent with structural findings,
1 1
H MRS studies suggest that impairments H MRS studies suggest that impairments
in neuronal integrity are more prominent in neuronal integrity are more prominent
in chronic as compared with first-episode in chronic as compared with first-episode
patients, and can also be found to some patients, and can also be found to some
degree in unaffected first-degree relatives. degree in unaffected first-degree relatives.
31 31
P MRS studies suggest alterations in P MRS studies suggest alterations in
membrane phospholipid metabolism early membrane phospholipid metabolism early
in the course of the illness; these changes in the course of the illness; these changes
are correlated with cognitive impairments are correlated with cognitive impairments
and negative symptoms, although their and negative symptoms, although their
possible disease-related progress remains possible disease-related progress remains
to be documented by longitudinal data. to be documented by longitudinal data.
Studies of cognitive and electro- Studies of cognitive and electro-
physiological processes in schizophrenia physiological processes in schizophrenia
have suggested general as well as selective have suggested general as well as selective
neuropsychological impairments, with neuropsychological impairments, with
some deficits being present early in a trait- some deficits being present early in a trait-
like manner and some others showing pro- like manner and some others showing pro-
gression. Functional imaging studies have gression. Functional imaging studies have
allowed characterisation of the functional allowed characterisation of the functional
neuroanatomical circuitry involved early neuroanatomical circuitry involved early
in the illness; again, the course of in the illness; again, the course of these func- these func-
tional changes and the illness versus treat- tional changes and the illness versus treat-
ment effects over time remain unclear. ment effects over time remain unclear.
Overall, the pathophysiological significance Overall, the pathophysiological significance
of the neurobiological observations in of the neurobiological observations in
early psychoses remains vague, although early psychoses remains vague, although
tantalising clues are beginning to appear. tantalising clues are beginning to appear.
Several lines of future research are of Several lines of future research are of
promise in this burgeoning field. First, promise in this burgeoning field. First,
advances in neuroimaging technology now advances in neuroimaging technology now
allow us to examine the neurobiology of allow us to examine the neurobiology of
psychosis in finer detail. High-field magnets psychosis in finer detail. High-field magnets
( (* *3T or higher) allow better spatial 3 T or higher) allow better spatial
resolution for structural imaging studies; resolution for structural imaging studies;
better neurochemical resolution for MRS better neurochemical resolution for MRS
may help investigation of key metabolites, may help investigation of key metabolites,
such as glutamate and GABA. Multimodal such as glutamate and GABA. Multimodal
imaging studies combining functional MRI imaging studies combining functional MRI
and ERP techniques will increase temporal and ERP techniques will increase temporal
resolution and allow close examination of resolution and allow close examination of
disordered cognitive processes. Second, disordered cognitive processes. Second,
observations that the early course of schizo- observations that the early course of schizo-
phrenia is associated with progressive phrenia is associated with progressive
changes in brain structure and function changes in brain structure and function
highlight the importance of longitudinal highlight the importance of longitudinal
studies of individuals at ultra-high risk for studies of individuals at ultra-high risk for
developing psychosis who are not receiving developing psychosis who are not receiving
antipsychotic medication to track the antipsychotic medication to track the
underlying biology of transition to the underlying biology of transition to the
psychotic illnesses, as well as studies of psychotic illnesses, as well as studies of
patients with first-episode psychosis to patients with first-episode psychosis to
determine the biology of disease progres- determine the biology of disease progres-
sion following illness onset. Recognising sion following illness onset. Recognising
these biological processes can eventually these biological processes can eventually
help to develop phase-specific treatments help to develop phase-specific treatments
that may be able to protect the vulnerable that may be able to protect the vulnerable
individual from the emergence and/or individual from the emergence and/or
progression of the illness. Third, the progression of the illness. Third, the
observations of similar, albeit less severe, observations of similar, albeit less severe,
neurobiological changes in relatives of neurobiological changes in relatives of
patients with schizophrenia and other psy- patients with schizophrenia and other psy-
chotic disorders suggest that these studies chotic disorders suggest that these studies
may help us to better define the endopheno- may help us to better define the endopheno-
type of these illnesses, and eventually elu- type of these illnesses, and eventually elu-
cidate the susceptibility genes for illness cidate the susceptibility genes for illness
onset, treatment response or outcome. onset, treatment response or outcome.
Finally, neurobiological research in early Finally, neurobiological research in early
psychosis, to be successful, requires service psychosis, to be successful, requires service
structures that can access adequate structures that can access adequate
numbers of early psychosis patients. The numbers of early psychosis patients. The
recent emergence of specialised early recog- recent emergence of specialised early recog-
nition and intervention services for early nition and intervention services for early
psychotic disorders psychotic disorders throughout the world throughout the world
(Edwards & McGorry, (Edwards & McGorry, 2002) will make 2002) will make
neurobiological research in early psychoses neurobiological research in early psychoses
both timely and feasible. both timely and feasible.
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s16 s16
CLINICIAL IMPLICATIONS CLINICIAL IMPLICATIONS
& &
It is important to understand the neurobiological changes during the premorbid It is important to understand the neurobiological changes during the premorbid
phase of psychoses to identify persons at increased risk and for prevention efforts. phase of psychoses to identify persons at increased risk and for prevention efforts.
& & Clarification of the biology of transition to psychosis in prodromal patients is Clarification of the biology of transition to psychosis in prodromal patients is
critical for our efforts to identify early and potentially prevent the emergence of critical for our efforts to identify early and potentially prevent the emergence of
psychotic illness. psychotic illness.
& &
Abetter knowledge of the biological changes during the early phases can help to Abetter knowledge of the biological changes during the early phases can help to
develop strategies for minimising long-termmorbidity and disability. develop strategies for minimising long-termmorbidity and disability.
LIMITATIONS LIMITATIONS
& & Although several neurobiological changes have been consistently found in early Although several neurobiological changes have been consistently found in early
schizophrenia, none is specific to be of diagnostic value at this time. schizophrenia, none is specific to be of diagnostic value at this time.
& & The implications of the neurobiological alterations for treatment are still unclear. The implications of the neurobiological alterations for treatment are still unclear.
& & Neurobiological researchin the earlyphases of schizophrenia is oftenhamperedby Neurobiological researchin the earlyphases of schizophrenia is oftenhamperedby
the lack of specialised health service settings that can adequately access adequate the lack of specialised health service settings that can adequately access adequate
numbers of such people. numbers of such people.
MATCHERI S. KESHAVAN, MD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences,Wayne State MATCHERI S. KESHAVAN, MD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences,Wayne State
University, Detroit, Michigan, USA; GREGORBERGER, MD, ORYGENResearch Centre, Department of University, Detroit, Michigan, USA; GREGORBERGER, MD, ORYGENResearch Centre, Department of
Psychiatry, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia; ROBERT B. ZIPURSKY, MD, Centre for Addiction Psychiatry, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia; ROBERT B. ZIPURSKY, MD, Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Canada; STEPHENJ.WOOD, PhD, and Mental Health, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Canada; STEPHENJ.WOOD, PhD,
CHRISTOS PANTELIS, FRANZCP, Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre, Department of Psychiatry, The CHRISTOS PANTELIS, FRANZCP, Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre, Department of Psychiatry, The
University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia
Correspondence: Dr Matcheri S. Keshavan, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences,Wayne Correspondence: Dr Matcheri S. Keshavan, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences,Wayne
State University, UCH 9B, 4201St Antoine Boulevard, Detroit, Michigan, USA. Tel: +1 313 993 6732; State University, UCH 9B, 4201St Antoine Boulevard, Detroit, Michigan, USA. Tel: +1313 993 6732;
fax: +1 313 577 5900; e-mail: mkeshava fax: +1313 577 5900; e-mail: mkeshava@ @med.wayne.edu med.wayne.edu
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