Author Interviews, Infections, Schizophrenia / 05.08.2020 Interview with: GeNeuro Hervé Perron PhD Chief Scientific Officer at GeNeuro What is the background for this study? Response: Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs), remnants of ancestral viral genomic insertions, are known to represent 8% of the human genome and are associated with several pathologies. Certain proteins produced by HERVs have previously been found to be involved in pathogenic mechanisms linked to, e.g., multiple sclerosis (MS) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.  However, despite previous results having shown an abnormal expression of HERV-W in patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, the mechanisms involved in these psychiatric disorders are poorly understood. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research / 28.02.2020 Interview with: Dr. Aristotle Voineskos MD, PhD, FRCPC Director, Slaight Family Centre for Youth in Transition and Head, Kimel Family Translational Imaging-Genetics Laboratory Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute CAMH University of Toronto What is the background for this study? Response: Uncontrolled studies in humans have shown conflicting results regarding effects of antipsychotic medications on brain structure. Recent studies in animals (e.g. rats and non-human primates) show that these medications may be associated with brain volume loss. To date, our knowledge of the effects of antipsychotic medications on brain structure in humans have been limited by the lack of a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial with brain imaging. Ours is the first such study. It is considered unethical to do such a study in people with schizophrenia, because of the life-saving benefits of these medications in this illness. However, in people with depression also experiencing psychosis, it was possible to do such a study once people experienced remission from their illness. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, JAMA, Mental Health Research, OBGYNE / 28.03.2019 Interview with: Jeremy Fine B.A. in Philosophy, Neuroscience, and Psychology Washington University in St. Louis, Class of 201 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Alongside increasingly permissive marijuana use attitudes and laws, the prevalence of marijuana use among pregnant mothers has increased substantially (by 75% between 2002 and 2016), with some evidence that pregnant women may be using cannabis to combat pregnancy-related nausea. Our data came from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, which included over 4,000 subjects with data on maternal marijuana use during pregnancy. Our main finding was that the children of mothers who used marijuana after learning they were pregnant had a small but significant increase in risk for psychosis in their future. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Schizophrenia / 08.05.2018 Interview with: Christoph U. Correll, MD Professor of Psychiatry and Molecular Medicine The Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell Hempstead, NY Investigator, Center for Psychiatric Neuroscience Feinstein Institute for Medical Research Medical Director, Recognition and Prevention (RAP) Program The Zucker Hillside Hospital, Department of Psychiatry What is the background for this study? Response: Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders are still all to often chronic and recurring mental health conditions that not uncommonly take a course during which individuals have varying degrees of significantly impaired personal, social and educational/vocational functioning. Prior individual studies examining early specialty intervention services, which integrate multiple different and complementary treatment components, had shown that this treatment approach can yield superior outcomes for people with early-phase schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders compared to usual care given to all people with psychotic disorders. However, we were lacking a broad overview of the type and results of treatment programs that had been conducted across different countries, continents and mental health service delivery systems. Moreover, we did not yet have a synthesis across all important outcomes that had been examined across these individual studies. This first comprehensive meta-analysis on this topic provides previously missing information on the different early intervention programs and their components as well as on all relevant outcomes for people who did or did not receiving early integrated care, also recently called ‘coordinated specialty care.’ (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research / 07.04.2018 Interview with: Dr. Aideen Maguire Centre of Excellence for Public Health Queen's University Belfast Institute of Clinical Sciences B Royal Hospitals Site, Belfast What is the background for this study?   Response: Consanguineous Marriage is the marriage between second or first cousins. Although not common practice in the Western world approximately 1 in 10 children worldwide are born to consanguineous parents. It is legal in all countries worldwide except the United States of America, North Korea and China. Cousin-marriage is associated with an increased risk of autosomal recessive genetic disorders in offspring but the association between cousin-marriage and the mental health of offspring has not been extensively studied. What are the main findings? Response: Children of consanguineous parents are over 3 times more likley to be in receipt of medications for common mood disorders (antidepressant and/or anxioltyic medication) compared to children of non-related parents and over twice as likley to be in receipt of antipsychotic medication compared to children of non-related parents.  (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Schizophrenia / 29.03.2018 Interview with: Silvana Galderisi MD President of the European Psychiatric Association Professor of Psychiatry University of Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli" Italy What is the background for this study? Response: The goal of schizophrenia treatment has gradually shifted from reduction of symptoms and prevention of relapse to improvement of real-life functioning. In fact, these outcomes not always coincide and, in spite of progress in treatments reducing symptoms and preventing relapses, people with schizophrenia live 15-20 years less than the general population, are often unemployed, and show severe disabilities. Enhanced understanding of factors associated with real-life functioning is instrumental to design effective integrated and personalized treatment plans for persons with schizophrenia. To this aim, the Italian Network for Research on Psychoses, including 26 twenty-six Italian university psychiatric clinics and/or mental health departments, has focused on the identification of variables influencing real-life functioning, in particular on the interrelationships among illness-related variables, personal resources, context-related variables and real-life functioning. The number of variables and subjects included in the study was larger than in any other study on this topic, and for the first time the network analysis was used to model the interplay among cognitive, psychopathological and psychosocial variables in a large sample of community dwelling subjects with schizophrenia. The network analysis is a data-driven approach; it does not rely on an a priori model of relationships among variables, provides quantitative measures of variable centrality within the network, thus indicating which variables play a key role in the network, and which ones are instead more peripheral. In addition, by inspecting the network, it is possible to understand the extent to which variables belonging to the same construct are connected, and how different constructs are mutually interacting and reinforcing each other.  (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Schizophrenia, Yale / 01.02.2018 Interview with: Josephine Mollon PhD Department of Psychosis Studies, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience King’s College London, London, England Currently with the Department of Psychiatry Yale University School of Medicine New Haven, Connecticut What is the background for this study? Response: Psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, are severe mental disorders that cause a range of abnormalities in perception and thinking. Individuals with psychotic disorders also experience severe impairments in IQ and there is evidence that these impairments begin many years before hallucinations and delusions first appear. Understanding how and when individuals with psychotic disorder experience a drop in IQ scores will help us better predict and treat poor cognition in these individuals, and perhaps even the disorder itself. (more…)
Author Interviews, NYU, Schizophrenia / 08.05.2017 Interview with: Donald C. Goff, MD Marvin Stern Professor Vice Chair for Research Department of Psychiatry NYU Langone Medical Center What is the background for this study? Response: Since their introduction in the 1950’s antipsychotic drugs have been an integral part of the treatment of schizophrenia. However, over the past decade concerns have been raised about whether these drugs might negatively affect the long-term course of the illness—either by causing supersensitivity of dopamine receptors, which might make patients more prone to psychosis and relapse, or by direct toxic effects on the brain. To address these concerns, we convened a panel of international experts to review the evidence supporting these concerns, including findings from clinical studies, brain imaging studies, post-mortem examination of the brains of people treated with these drugs, and studies in which these drugs were administered to animals. (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, Lancet, Mental Health Research, Schizophrenia / 27.02.2017 Interview with: Ernst L Noordraven MSc, PhD student Department of Psychiatry Epidemiological and Social Psychiatric Research institute Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam Netherlands What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Provision of financial incentives is a promising intervention for improving adherence in patients taking antipsychotic medication. We aimed to assess the effectiveness of this intervention for improving adherence to antipsychotic depot medication in patients with psychotic disorders, irrespective of their previous compliance. Our 12-month randomized controlled trial showed that financial incentives improved adherence to antipsychotic depot medications in patients with psychotic disorders, regardless of their level of compliance at study entrance. Patients received either treatment as usual plus a financial reward for each depot of medication received (€30 per month if fully compliant; intervention group) or treatment as usual alone (control group). Based on the use of depot registrations from 155 patients (92%), the adjusted difference in adherence was 14·9% (95% CI 8·9–20·9%; p<0·0001) in favour of the intervention group. Our study is also the first to demonstrate that the effects on medication adherence persist after monetary rewards are discontinued, for at least a 6-month follow-up period (adjusted difference 6·5%, 95% CI 2·0–10·9; p=0·047). (more…)
Author Interviews, Bipolar Disorder, JAMA, Schizophrenia / 06.07.2016 Interview with: Thomas M. Lancaster, PhD Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute Cardiff University Brain Imaging Research Centre Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorders are heritable. Part of this genetic risk may be conferred by the combined effects of common risk alleles identified via genome wide association studies. Individuals with psychosis are also more likely to experience alterations in the ventral striatum (VS); a key node in the brain’s reward processing network. We hypothesized that common genetic risk for psychosis may confer risk via alterations in the VS. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data from an adolescent sample (the IMAGEN cohort), we showed that increased psychosis risk was associated with increased BOLD (blood oxygen level dependency) in the VS, during reward processing. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research / 23.01.2015 Interview with: David P.G. van den Berg PhD student Clinical Psychologist Cognitive behavioural therapist Parnassia Psychiatric Institute Early Detection and Intervention Team (EDIT) Zoutkeetsingel, The Netherlands Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The last decade it has become clear that many people with psychotic disorders suffered severe childhood trauma. These experiences enhance chances of developing psychosis, but also result in comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is highly prevalent in patients with psychotic disorders and negatively influences prognosis and wellbeing. Prolonged Exposure (PE) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) are highly effective treatments and recommended as first choice treatments in PTSD guidelines worldwide. Although there is no evidence to support this, patients with psychosis are excluded from PTSD treatment due to fear of destabilization or psychotic decompensation. Moreover, psychosis is the most used exclusion criterion in PTSD trials. This is the first randomized clinical trial (RCT) of the efficacy of PTSD treatment in psychosis. In this RCT 155 patients with a psychotic disorder and comorbid PTSD were randomly assigned to PE, EMDR or Waiting List (WL). In the treatment conditions participants received 8 sessions of 90-minutes therapy. Standard protocols were used. Treatment was not preceded by stabilizing psychotherapeutic interventions or skills training. The first session comprised psycho-education about PTSD and target selection. In sessions 2 to 8 traumas were treated, starting with the most distressing experience. Baseline, post-treatment and 6-month follow-up assessments were made. Participants in both PE and EMDR showed greater reduction of PTSD symptoms than those in WL. Between group effect sizes were large. About sixty percent of the participants in the treatment groups achieved loss of diagnosis. Treatment effects were maintained at six-month follow-up for both PE and EMDR. Treatments did not result in serious adversities. (more…)
Addiction, Mental Health Research / 26.11.2014 Interview with: Melissa Anne Elin Authen Weibell Consultant Psychiatrist Helse Stavanger HF Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Weibell: Little is known about the effect of different patterns of substance use on outcomes in first-episode psychosis and the few studies that exist are often cross-sectional and heterogeneous. This new study investigated different patterns of substance use in an epidemiological first-episode psychosis (FEP) sample longitudinally, with the hypothesis that continuous use would predict poorer outcomes compared to never users or stop users. The study included 301 patients aged 16-65 with first episode non-affective included (1997-2001) from three separate catchment areas in Norway and Denmark. Four patterns of substance use were defined; never used (153 patients), persistent use(43), completely stopped use having previously used (36), and on-off use (48) during the first 2-years of follow-up. 184 patients were followed up at 10 years and compared on symptom levels and remission status. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research / 13.08.2014

Dr Golam Khandaker Clinical Lecturer, Department of Psychiatry University of Cambridge Interview with Dr Golam Khandaker Clinical Lecturer, Department of Psychiatry University of Cambridge Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Khandaker: The study shows low grade systemic inflammation may have a role in the pathogenesis of depression and psychotic disorders. Low grade systemic inflammation may also be a common cause for chronic physical and psychiatric illnesses. The study shows that higher serum levels of the circulating inflammatory marker, interleukin 6 (IL-6), in childhood is associated with nearly two-fold increased risk of developing depression and psychotic disorder in young adulthood. This association persisted after taking into account effects of age, sex, social class, ethnicity, body mass index, maternal depression, and past psychological and behavioural problem in the participant. We studied a sample of 4,500 individuals from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children birth cohort, taking blood samples at age 9 and following up at age 18, to see if they had experienced episodes of depression or . We excluded children with an infection at the time of blood test at age 9 years. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, General Medicine, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics / 22.01.2014 Interview with: Prof. Kathryn M Abel Professor of Psychiatry & Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist University of Manchester and Honorary Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, London. What are the main findings of the study? Answer: The main study findings were that exposure of a mother to a severe psychological stress of losing a close family member up to either 6 months before conception or at any time during pregnancy did not increase risk of subsequent psychotic illness in the offspring. Secondly, we found during childhood, if a close family member died then, especially a sibling of the child or one of their parents, these children were at slightly increased risk of developing a psychotic illness later in life. This was most likely to happen following a sudden death especially suicide and in particular following suicide a psychotic mood disorder was more likely than other kinds of psychosis such as schizophrenia (although the risk of schizophrenia was also increased following suicide). This effect was not accounted for by having  a family history of a psychotic illness or suicide. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research / 10.01.2014

Sarah M. Hartz, MD, PhD Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Washington University in St. Louis, Interview with: Sarah M. Hartz, MD, PhD Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri What are the main findings of this study? Dr. Hartz: This is the first large-scale study to comprehensively evaluate substance use in people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other severe mental illness.We found that people with severe mental illness have rates of smoking, alcohol use, and other substance use that are 3 to 5 times higher than people in the general population. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research / 10.09.2013 Interview with: Ricardo E. Carrión, PhD Division of Psychiatry Research The Zucker Hillside Hospital, North Shore–Long Island Jewish Health System, Glen Oaks, New YorkCenter for Psychiatric Neuroscience, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, North Shore–Long Island Jewish Health System, Manhasset, New York What are the main findings of your study: Answer: Reduced neurocognition, poor functioning, and other behavioral symptoms at baseline were associated with an increased risk of long-term social difficulties and school/work problems in adolescents and young adults at high clinical risk for psychosis. (more…)