Childhood Adversities Linked To Increased Suicide Risk in Adolescents and Young Adults

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Charlotte Björkenstam PhD

Dept of Clinical Neuroscience
Karolinska Institutet
Division of Insurance Medicine
Stockholm

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: In a prior study we revealed that exposure to childhood adversities were associated with a substantial risk increase for self-harm. The risk was even higher for those exposed to accumulated childhood adversities. This finding together with the fact that the suicide rate among young adults is increasing (as opposed to decreasing in the general population) lead us to want to examine the relationship between childhood adversities and death by suicide.

We investigated 7 different childhood adversities, including familial death (suicide analyzed separately), parental substance abuse, parental psychiatric disorder, substantial parental criminality, parental separation/single-parent household, public assistance recipiency, and residential instability occurring between birth and age 14. We then followed the individuals up until age 24 at most. All adversities were entailed with an increased suicide risk from IRR: 1.6 (95% CI: 1.1 to 2.4) for residential instability to IRR: 2.9 (95% CI; 1.4 to 5.9) for familial suicide. We also found a dose-response relationship between accumulating CA and suicide risk where IRR ranged between 1.1 (95% CI: 0.9 to 1.4) for those exposed to 1 CA, to 2.6 (95% CI: 1.9 to 3.4) for those exposed to 3 or more adversities.

Continue reading

Study Finds No Link To Autism, ADHD In Offspring From Antidepressant Use In Pregnancy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Simone Vigod, MD, MSc, FRCPC Psychiatrist and Lead, Reproductive Life Stages Program Women’s Mental Health Program Women’s College Hospital Toronto, ON

Dr. Vigod

Simone Vigod, MD, MSc, FRCPC
Psychiatrist and Lead, Reproductive Life Stages Program
Women’s Mental Health Program
Women’s College Hospital
Toronto, ON

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Depression is one of the most common problems that can complicate a pregnancy. Untreated, or incompletely treated, it can be associated with significant harm to mother and child. While psychotherapies alone may be effective for women with mild (or even moderate) severity symptoms, sometimes antidepressant medication is required. In these cases, the benefits of treatment must be weighed against potential risks. Previous research suggested that there may be an increased risk for autism in children exposed to antidepressant medication during pregnancy. However, previous studies were limited in their ability to account for other potential causes of autism in their analyses. In our study, we used several different strategies to try to compare children whose pregnancy exposures were very similar, except for exposure to an antidepressant.

The main finding was that after using these strategies, there was no longer a statistically significant association between in-utero antidepressant exposure and autism.

Continue reading

Gene Linked To X-linked Intellectual Disability Identified In Less Than A Day

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Daryl Armstrong Scott, M.D., Ph.D
Associate Professor
Molecular and Human Genetics
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, TX, US

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: This case started with a male child with intellectual disability, developmental delay, hypotonia, hypermobile joints and relative macrocephaly (large head size). Clinical testing showed that he carried a small deletion on chromosome Xp11.22. Since the deleted region had not been previously associated with human disease, the patient was referred to our clinic for additional testing. However, a more detailed analysis revealed that mice that were missing one of the genes located in the deletion interval, Maged1, had neurocognitive and neurobehavioral problems. This sparked additional inquiries which resulted in the identification of three other males from two other families who carried small, overlapping Xp11.22 deletions and had similar features. In all cases, their deletions were inherited from their asymptomatic mothers.

We concluded that deletion of an ~430 kb region on chromosome Xp11.22 that encompasses two pseudogenes (CENPVL1 and CENPVL2) and two protein-coding genes (MAGED1 and GSPT2) causes a novel, syndromic form of X-linked intellectual disability characterized by developmental delay, hypotonia, hypermobile joints and relative macrocephaly.

Continue reading

Concussion History and Cognitive Function in Retired Professional Hockey Players

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Brian Levine, Ph.D., C.Psych, ABPP-cn Senior Scientist, Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Professor, Departments of Psychology and Medicine (Neurology) University of Toro

Dr. Brian Levine

Brian Levine, Ph.D., C.Psych, ABPP-cn
Senior Scientist, Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest
Professor, Departments of Psychology and Medicine (Neurology)
University of Toronto

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: There is growing concern about the effects of concussion on brain function with aging. Retired professional athletes provide a unique perspective on this question, as many of them have a high concussion exposure before retirement in their 20’s or 30’s. Yet much of the research on professional athletes has been in post-mortem samples. There is a need for more research in retired athletes during life.

Continue reading

Review of Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders According to Period of Prenatal Antidepressant Exposure:

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Florence Gressier MD PhD

Insermk Department of psychiatry
CHU de Bicêtrem Le Kremlin Bicêtre
France

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Results from recent studies have suggested an increased risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) in children exposed to antidepressants in utero.

We performed a systematic review of and a meta-analysis of published studies to assess the association between ASDs and fetal exposure to antidepressants during pregnancy for each trimester of pregnancy and preconception.

Our systematic review and meta-analysis suggests a significant association between increased ASD risk and maternal use of antidepressants during pregnancy; however, it appears to be more consistent during the preconception period than during each trimester. In addition, the association was weaker when controlled for past maternal mental illness. Maternal psychiatric disorders in treatment before pregnancy rather than antenatal exposure to antidepressants could have a major role in the risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Continue reading

Can Greebles Help Identify People At Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Emily Mason, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Associate
Department of Neurological Surgery
University of Louisville

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Family History of Alzheimer’s Disease is Associated with Impaired Perceptual Discrimination of Novel Objects

Family History of Alzheimer’s Disease is Associated with Impaired Perceptual Discrimination of Novel Objects

Response: Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating neurodegenerative disease that currently affects one in eight Americans over the age of 65. Unfortunately, there is still no treatment that will halt or reverse the pathology associated with Alzheimer’s disease. One of the reasons for this may be that we still don’t fully understand what is happening in the very earliest stages of the disease. Previous studies have shown that one of the pathological hallmarks of the disease, called “tau tangles,” begins to accumulate in a specific area of the brain called the medial temporal lobe decades before people are typically diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. We wondered if we could use cognitive tests targeted to structures in the medial temporal lobe to pick up very subtle behavioral changes in people who were at increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. We examined people who were in their 40s and 50s, which is a time when if any differences could be detected, it’s possible that pathology may be reversible.

Using a cognitive task called “odd man out” that can be easily implemented using a computer, we found that subjects at risk for Alzheimer’s disease tended to do worse in identifying differences between objects called Greebles. These objects are highly visually similar, and most people have never seen them before. Those two things make this task very difficult. We believe that this study lays some of the groundwork in developing cognitive tests targeted at relatively young subjects who may be in the very earliest stages of the disease.

Continue reading

Probiotics May Influence Schizophrenia Symptoms Through Yeast in Microbiome

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Emily G. Severance PhD
Stanley Division of Developmental Neurovirology
Department of Pediatrics
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Baltimore, MD 21287

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Previously, we found that people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder had an increased susceptibility to Candida albicans yeast infections, which was sex specific and associated with memory deficits. Also in an earlier placebo-controlled probiotic study, we found that although probiotics improved the overall bowel function of people with schizophrenia, there was no effect by this treatment on psychiatric symptoms.  Given that C. albicans infections can upset the dynamics of the human microbiome, we decided to re-evaluate the potential benefit of probiotics in the context of a patient’s C. albicans yeast status.  Not only was bowel function again enhanced following intake of probiotics, but yeast antibody levels were decreased by this treatment.

Furthermore, psychiatric symptoms were actually improved over time for men receiving probiotics who did not have elevated C. albicans antibodies. Men who were positive for C. albicans exposure, however, consistently presented with worse psychiatric symptoms irrespective of probiotic or placebo treatment.

Continue reading

Excessive Rainfall May Be Linked To Autism Through Nitrous Oxide Exposure

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Keith Fluegge BS
Institute of Health and Environmental Research (IHER) Cleveland
Graduate School, The Ohio State University, Columbus
Ohio

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The research letter discusses the possible link between rainfall precipitation and risk of autism. Earlier research suggested a link, although there remained quite a bit of skepticism surrounding the findings at the time.

The purpose of the study was to briefly highlight the role of environmental exposure to the agricultural and combustion pollutant, nitrous oxide (N2O), as a possible etiological factor in neurodevelopmental disorders. We have published a series of epidemiological investigations, reviews, and correspondences discussing this possibility. In my continued research on this topic, I learned that rainfall and extreme weather-related events, like hurricanes, drive N2O emissions, especially from nitrogen amended soils. Exposure to this particular air pollutant may, therefore, plausibly undergird the relationship between rainfall precipitation and risk of autism.

Continue reading

Pre-Clinical Study of Tbit™ System for Detection of Traumatic Brain Injury

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Sergey A. Dryga, PhD, MBA Chief Scientific Officer BioDirection, Inc.

Dr. Sergey Dryga

Sergey A. Dryga, PhD, MBA
Chief Scientific Officer
BioDirection, Inc. 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: When patients have suffered a head injury, they typically undergo a series of subjective cognitive tests to confirm a diagnosis of a concussion or other traumatic brain injury. In many cases these tests are inaccurate and inconsistent, increasing the risk of misdiagnosis. In other cases, patients may undergo an unnecessary CT scan, which is costly and exposes them to radiation. Early, objective diagnostic testing of patients who have experienced a head injury can support more rapid and appropriate treatment decisions while potentially reducing the use of unnecessary CT scans or other forms of intervention.

We know that protein biomarkers, including S100 calcium binding protein beta (S100β) and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), are released from the brain into the bloodstream immediately following a concussion or other traumatic brain injury. The Tbit™ System is a new medical device based on a nanotechnology biosensor that rapidly detects and accurately measures these protein biomarkers. The system includes a disposable cartridge and portable analyzer designed for testing using a single drop of blood at the earliest stages of a concussion.

This pre-clinical study was designed to evaluate the ability of the Tbit System to screen traumatic brain injury patients for a CT positive or CT negative test. Frozen plasma samples were collected from a total of 100 patients who had undergone CT scans post hospital admission. The Tbit System demonstrated 100% sensitivity with no false negative results, and a 41% specificity level.

Continue reading

Rare Gene Variant Linked To Depressive Symptoms

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Najaf Amin, PhD
Erasmus University Medical Center
Netherlands

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Identifying genetic risk factors for depression has not been easy. Over a decade of genetic research did not yield a single replicable genetic factor for depression. It was only recently that 15 common genetic variants mostly in the non-coding parts of the genome were identified through a large genome-wide association study performed by 23andMe. All of these variants add a very small risk to depression individually (odds ratio < 1.05). These common variants cannot explain the cases that have a family history of depression.

Our hypothesis is that such familial cases are enriched for variants that are rare, lie in the coding region of the genome and thus have a large effect on depression. Such variants are enriched in families and isolated populations and therefore have a higher chance of being discovered compared to more cosmopolitan populations. Through gene-based analysis of rare coding variants we have identified a novel gene NKPD1 that may be relevant for depression. Further, we have noticed that the more deleterious the effect of the variant is on the protein, the larger the effect is on depressive symptoms.

Continue reading

Deliberate Self-harm Associated With Violent Criminality

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Hanna Sahlin MSc, Lic psychologist, Lic psychotherapist Specialist in clinical psychology PhD-student Departement of Clinical Neuroscience Karolinska Institutet National Self-harm project Centre for Psychiatry Research, CPF Stockholm, Sweden

Hanna Sahlin

Hanna Sahlin
MSc, Lic psychologist, Lic psychotherapist
Specialist in clinical psychology
PhD-student
Departement of Clinical Neuroscience
Karolinska Institutet
National Self-harm project
Centre for Psychiatry Research, CPF
Stockholm, Sweden

What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: This study is the result of wanting to find a more conclusive answer to whether individuals who engage in non-fatal deliberate self-harm are more prone to aggression towards others. There has long been a debate on whether aggression to oneself and aggression towards others co-occur, but the studies that have been conducted thus far have been on smaller samples or with clinical or forensic cohorts. Also, the studies have had great variability regarding the definition of both “deliberate self-harm” and “violence”. Thus, it has been difficult to establish an ”overall” effect size for this association, or to draw firmer conclusions on how and if this association plays out in the general population.

We had the opportunity to study this association in several large nationwide population-based registries including all Swedish citizens, and with high specificity regarding the ingoing variables of interest – i.e., non-fatal deliberate self-harm (as registered in the National Patient Register) and violent crime convictions (as registered in the National Crime Register).

We found a five times increased crude risk (hazard) of being convicted of a violent crime if one had received self-harm associated clinical care, and vice-versa, that there was an equally increased risk of self-harm if one had been convicted of a violent crime. After controlling for relevant psychiatric comorbidities and socio-economic status, an almost doubled risk of violent crime conviction remained among self-harming men and women compared to individuals not exposed to self-harm. It is important to notice that our study did not find any evidence suggesting that self-harm behaviours cause violent criminality. Therefore, we conclude that the engagement in violence towards oneself and towards others share an underlying vulnerability to impulsive and aggressive behaviours.

Continue reading

White Matter Trajectories Diverge In Children After Traumatic Brain Injury

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Emily Dennis Postdoctoral Scholar Imaging Genetics Center Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute USC

Emily Dennis

Emily Dennis PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar
Imaging Genetics Center
Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute
USC

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We know that there is heterogeneity in outcome post-traumatic brain injury (TBI), but we generally think of this as a continuous variable – with most patients falling in the middle and only a few at the extremes in terms of recovery process and outcome.

Our main finding was that interhemispheric transfer time (IHTT – the time it takes for information to move from one hemisphere of the brain to the other) identified 2 subgroups of TBI patients – those with slow IHTT and those with normal IHTT. These two groups show differences in cognitive function and brain structure, with the IHTT slow group showing structural disruptions that become progressively worse while the IHTT normal group seems to be recovering from the injury.

Continue reading