Sunday, January 10, 2016

January 2016

Childhood Depression and Alterations in the Trajectory of Gray Matter Maturation in Middle Childhood and Early Adolescence 


JAMA Psychiatry

Abstract

Importance  
The trajectory of cortical gray matter development in childhood has been characterized by early neurogenesis and volume increase, peaking at puberty followed by selective elimination and myelination, resulting in volume loss and thinning. This inverted U-shaped trajectory, as well as cortical thickness, has been associated with cognitive and emotional function. Synaptic pruning–based volume decline has been related to experience-dependent plasticity in animals. To date, there have been no data to inform whether and how childhood depression might be associated with this trajectory.

Objective  
To examine the effects of early childhood depression, from the preschool age to the school age period, on cortical gray matter development measured across 3 waves of neuroimaging from late school age to early adolescence.

Design, Setting, and Participants  
Data were collected in an academic research setting from September 22, 2003, to December 13, 2014, on 193 children aged 3 to 6 years from the St Louis, Missouri, metropolitan area who were observed for up to 11 years in a longitudinal behavioral and neuroimaging study of childhood depression. Multilevel modeling was applied to explore the association between the number of childhood depression symptoms and prior diagnosis of major depressive disorder and the trajectory of gray matter change across 3 scan waves. Data analysis was conducted from October 29, 2014, to September 28, 2015.

Main Outcomes and Measures  
Volume, thickness, and surface area of cortical gray matter measured using structural magnetic resonance imaging at 3 scan waves.

Results  
Of the 193 children, 90 had a diagnosis of major depressive disorder; 116 children had 3 full waves of neuroimaging scans. Findings demonstrated marked alterations in cortical gray matter volume loss (slope estimate, −0.93 cm3; 95% CI, −1.75 to −0.10 cm3 per scan wave) and thinning (slope estimate, −0.0044 mm; 95% CI, −0.0077 to −0.0012 mm per scan wave) associated with experiencing an episode of major depressive disorder before the first magnetic resonance imaging scan. In contrast, no significant associations were found between development of gray matter and family history of depression or experiences of traumatic or stressful life events during this period.

Conclusions and Relevance  
This study demonstrates an association between early childhood depression and the trajectory of cortical gray matter development in late school age and early adolescence. These findings underscore the significance of early childhood depression on alterations in neural development.




Ultra-Low-Dose Buprenorphine as a Time-Limited Treatment for Severe Suicidal Ideation: A Randomized Controlled Trial


The American Journal of Psychiatry 

Abstract

Objective:
Suicidal ideation and behavior currently have no quick-acting pharmacological treatments that are suitable for independent outpatient use. Suicidality is linked to mental pain, which is modulated by the separation distress system through endogenous opioids. The authors tested the efficacy and safety of very low dosages of sublingual buprenorphine as a time-limited treatment for severe suicidal ideation.

Method:
This was a multisite randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of ultra-low-dose sublingual buprenorphine as an adjunctive treatment. Severely suicidal patients without substance abuse were randomly assigned to receive either buprenorphine or placebo (in a 2:1 ratio), in addition to their ongoing individual treatments. The primary outcome measure was change in suicidal ideation, as assessed by the Beck Suicide Ideation Scale at the end of each of 4 weeks of treatment.

Results:
Patients who received ultra-low-dose buprenorphine (initial dosage, 0.1 mg once or twice daily; mean final dosage=0.44 mg/day; N=40) had a greater reduction in Beck Suicide Ideation Scale scores than patients who received placebo (N=22), both after 2 weeks (mean difference −4.3, 95% CI=−8.5, −0.2) and after 4 weeks (mean difference=−7.1, 95% CI=−12.0, −2.3). Concurrent use of antidepressants and a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder did not affect the response to buprenorphine. No withdrawal symptoms were reported after treatment discontinuation at the end of the trial.

Conclusions:
The time-limited, short-term use of very low dosages of sublingual buprenorphine was associated with decreased suicidal ideation in severely suicidal patients without substance abuse. Further research is needed to establish the efficacy, safety, dosing, and appropriate patient populations for this experimental treatment.




Do antidepressants increase the risk of mania and bipolar disorder in people with depression? A retrospective electronic case register cohort study


BMJ Mental Health

Abstract 

Objectives 
To investigate the association between antidepressant therapy and the later onset of mania/bipolar disorder.

Design 
Retrospective cohort study using an anonymised electronic health record case register.

Setting 
South London and Maudsley National Health Service (NHS) Trust (SLaM), a large provider of inpatient and community mental healthcare in the UK.

Participants 
21 012 adults presenting to SLaM between 1 April 2006 and 31 March 2013 with unipolar depression.

Exposure 
Prior antidepressant therapy recorded in electronic health records.

Main outcome measure 
Time to subsequent diagnosis of mania or bipolar disorder from date of diagnosis of unipolar depression, censored at 31 March 2014.

Methods 
Multivariable Cox regression analysis with age and gender as covariates.

Results 
The overall incidence rate of mania/bipolar disorder was 10.9 per 1000 person-years. The peak incidence of mania/bipolar disorder incidence was seen in patients aged between 26 and 35 years (12.3 per 1000 person-years). Prior antidepressant treatment was associated with an increased incidence of mania/bipolar disorder ranging from 13.1 to 19.1 per 1000 person-years. Multivariable analysis indicated a significant association with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (HR 1.34, 95% CI 1.18 to 1.52) and venlafaxine (1.35, 1.07 to 1.70).

Conclusions 
In people with unipolar depression, antidepressant treatment is associated with an increased risk of subsequent mania/bipolar disorder. These findings highlight the importance of considering risk factors for mania when treating people with depression.



An Abrupt Transformation of Phobic Behavior After a Post-Retrieval Amnesic Agent


Biological Psychiatry
  
Abstract

Background
Although disrupting the process of memory reconsolidation has a great potential for clinical practice, the fear-amnesic effects are typically demonstrated through Pavlovian conditioning. Given that older and stronger memories are generally more resistant to change, we tested whether disrupting reconsolidation would also diminish fear in individuals who had developed a persistent spider fear outside the laboratory.

Methods
Spider-fearful participants received a single dose of 40 mg of the noradrenergic β-blocker propranolol (n = 15), double-blind and placebo-controlled (n = 15), after a short 2-min exposure to a tarantula. To test whether memory reactivation was necessary to observe a fear-reducing effect, one additional group of spider-fearful participants (n = 15) received a single dose of 40 mg propranolol without memory reactivation.

Results
Disrupting reconsolidation of fear memory transformed avoidance behavior into approach behavior in a virtual binary fashion—an effect that persisted at least 1 year after treatment. Interestingly the β-adrenergic drug did initially not affect the self-declared fear of spiders but instead these reports followed the instant behavioral transformation several months later.

Conclusions
Our findings are in sharp contrast with the currently pharmacological and cognitive behavioral treatments for anxiety and related disorders. The β-adrenergic blocker was only effective when the drug was administered upon memory reactivation, and a modification in cognitive representations was not necessary to observe a change in fear behavior. A new wave of treatments that pharmacologically target the synaptic plasticity underlying learning and memory seems to be within reach.



Identification of Distinct Psychosis Biotypes Using Brain-Based Biomarkers


The American Journal of  Psychiatry

Abstract

Objective  
Clinical phenomenology remains the primary means for classifying psychoses despite considerable evidence that this method incompletely captures biologically meaningful differentiations. Rather than relying on clinical diagnoses as the gold standard, this project drew on neurobiological heterogeneity among psychosis cases to delineate subgroups independent of their phenomenological manifestations.

Method:
A large biomarker panel (neuropsychological, stop signal, saccadic control, and auditory stimulation paradigms) characterizing diverse aspects of brain function was collected on individuals with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and bipolar disorder with psychosis (N=711), their first-degree relatives (N=883), and demographically comparable healthy subjects (N=278). Biomarker variance across paradigms was exploited to create nine integrated variables that were used to capture neurobiological variance among the psychosis cases. Data on external validating measures (social functioning, structural magnetic resonance imaging, family biomarkers, and clinical information) were collected.

Results:
Multivariate taxometric analyses identified three neurobiologically distinct psychosis biotypes that did not respect clinical diagnosis boundaries. The same analysis procedure using clinical DSM diagnoses as the criteria was best described by a single severity continuum (schizophrenia worse than schizoaffective disorder worse than bipolar psychosis); this was not the case for biotypes. The external validating measures supported the distinctiveness of these subgroups compared with clinical diagnosis, highlighting a possible advantage of neurobiological versus clinical categorization schemes for differentiating psychotic disorders.

Conclusions:
These data illustrate how multiple pathways may lead to clinically similar psychosis manifestations, and they provide explanations for the marked heterogeneity observed across laboratories on the same biomarker variables when DSM diagnoses are used as the gold standard.



Does escitalopram reduce neurotoxicity in major depression?


Journal of Psychiatric Research

Abstract

A pro-inflammatory state and a dysregulation in the tryptophan/kynurenine pathway have been documented in depression. This study examined whether treatment with the SSRI, escitalopram (ESC), could suppress inflammation and favorably shift metabolites of the kynurenine pathway in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) within the utilized treatment period. Twenty seven healthy control subjects were included for comparison. Thirty patients were enrolled after completing baseline assessments. They received a 12-week ESC monotherapy. Twenty subjects were completers. Clinical assessments were carried out at each visit using the HAM-D, HAM-A, CGI and BDI rating scales. Blood samples were collected at each assessment and stored until analyzed. Cytokines were analyzed with Randox multiplex assay and tryptophan and kynurenine metabolites were analyzed using HPLC/GCMS. Baseline plasma concentrations of hsCRP, TNFα, IL6 and MCP-1 were significantly higher in patients compared to healthy controls. IL10 trended toward an increase. Baseline plasma IL1β correlated significantly with IL1α, and IL4. Patients showed significant improvement in all outcome measures with a high remission rate. Significant correlations were obtained between specific symptoms and certain biomarkers at baseline but these correlations must be viewed as very preliminary. During ESC treatment concentrations of inflammatory biomarkers did not change except for TNFα that trended lower. Metabolites and ratios of the tryptophan/kynurenine pathway showed reductions of the neurotoxic metabolites, 3-hydroxykynurenine and quinolinic acid, 3-hydroxykynurenine/kynurenine, quinolinic acid/tryptophan, kynurenic acid/quinolinic acid and quinolinic acid/3-hydroxykynurenine. The results indicate that ESC may exert its antidepressant effect in part through inhibition of synthesis of certain neurotoxic kynurenine metabolites and possibly also through reduction of the inflammatory response, although there was no concordance in the time course of changes between antidepressant efficacy and reversal of the pro-inflammatory status.



Perinatal Phosphatidylcholine Supplementation and Early Childhood Behavior Problems: Evidence for CHRNA7 Moderation


The American Journal of  Psychiatry

Abstract

Objective:
α7-Nicotinic receptors are involved in the final maturation of GABA inhibitory synapses before birth. Choline at levels found in the amniotic fluid is an agonist at α7-nicotinic receptors. The authors conducted a double-blind placebo-controlled trial to assess whether high-dose oral phosphatidylcholine supplementation during pregnancy to increase maternal amniotic fluid choline levels would enhance fetal development of cerebral inhibition and, as a result, decrease childhood behavior problems associated with later mental illness.

Method:
The authors previously reported that newborns in the phosphatidylcholine treatment group have increased suppression of the cerebral evoked response to repeated auditory stimuli. In this follow-up, they report parental assessments of the children’s behavior at 40 months of age, using the Child Behavior Checklist.

Results:
At 40 months, parent ratings of children in the phosphatidylcholine group (N=23) indicated fewer attention problems and less social withdrawal compared with the placebo group (N=26). The improvement is comparable in magnitude to similar deficits at this age associated with later schizophrenia. The children’s behavior is moderated by CHRNA7 variants associated with later mental illness and is related to their enhanced cerebral inhibition as newborns.

Conclusions:
CHRNA7, the α7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor gene, has been associated with schizophrenia, autism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Maternal phosphatidylcholine treatment may, by increasing activation of the α7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, alter the development of behavior problems in early childhood that can presage later mental illness.



Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy and the Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children


JAMA Pediatrics

Abstract

Importance  
The association between the use of antidepressants during gestation and the risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children is still controversial. The etiology of ASD remains unclear, although studies have implicated genetic predispositions, environmental risk factors, and maternal depression.

Objective  
To examine the risk of ASD in children associated with antidepressant use during pregnancy according to trimester of exposure and taking into account maternal depression.

Design, Setting, and Participants  
We conducted a register-based study of an ongoing population-based cohort, the Québec Pregnancy/Children Cohort, which includes data on all pregnancies and children in Québec from January 1, 1998, to December 31, 2009. A total of 145 456 singleton full-term infants born alive and whose mothers were covered by the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec drug plan for at least 12 months before and during pregnancy were included. Data analysis was conducted from October 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015.

Exposures  
Antidepressant exposure during pregnancy was defined according to trimester and specific antidepressant classes.

Main Outcomes and Measures  
Children with ASD were defined as those with at least 1 diagnosis of ASD between date of birth and last date of follow-up. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to estimate crude and adjusted hazard ratios with 95% CIs.

Results  
During 904 035.50 person-years of follow-up, 1054 children (0.7%) were diagnosed with ASD; boys with ASD outnumbered girls by a ratio of about 4:1. The mean (SD) age of children at the end of follow-up was 6.24 (3.19) years. Adjusting for potential confounders, use of antidepressants during the second and/or third trimester was associated with the risk of ASD (31 exposed infants; adjusted hazard ratio, 1.87; 95% CI, 1.15-3.04). Use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors during the second and/or third trimester was significantly associated with an increased risk of ASD (22 exposed infants; adjusted hazard ratio, 2.17; 95% CI, 1.20-3.93). The risk was persistent even after taking into account maternal history of depression (29 exposed infants; adjusted hazard ratio, 1.75; 95% CI, 1.03-2.97).

Conclusions and Relevance  
Use of antidepressants, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, during the second and/or third trimester increases the risk of ASD in children, even after considering maternal depression. Further research is needed to specifically assess the risk of ASD associated with antidepressant types and dosages during pregnancy.




Mortality and Cumulative Exposure to Antipsychotics, Antidepressants, and Benzodiazepines in Patients With Schizophrenia: An Observational Follow-Up Study


The American Journal of  Psychiatry

Abstract

Objective:
Although mortality related to psychotropic medications has received much attention in recent years, little is known about the relationship between risk of death and cumulative antipsychotic load, and even less about the relationship between mortality and cumulative exposure to antidepressants or benzodiazepines. The authors examined these relationships using nationwide databases.

Method:
The authors used prospectively collected nationwide databases to identify all individuals 16–65 years of age with a schizophrenia diagnosis (N=21,492) in Sweden. All-cause and cause-specific mortality rates were calculated as a function of cumulative low, moderate, and high exposure to antipsychotics, antidepressants, and benzodiazepines from 2006 through 2010.

Results:
Compared with no exposure, both moderate (adjusted hazard ratio=0.59, 95% CI=0.49–0.70) and high (adjusted hazard ratio=0.75, 95% CI=0.63–0.89) antipsychotic exposures were associated with substantially lower overall mortality. Moderate antidepressant exposure was associated with a lower mortality (adjusted hazard ratio=0.85, 95% CI=0.73–0.98), and high exposure, even lower (adjusted hazard ratio=0.71, 95% CI=0.59–0.86). Exposure to benzodiazepines showed a dose-response relationship with mortality (hazard ratios up to 1.74 [95% CI=1.50–2.03]).

Conclusions:
Moderate and high-dose antipsychotic and antidepressant use were associated with 15%–40% lower overall mortality, whereas chronic high-dose use of benzodiazepines was associated with up to a 70% higher risk of death compared with no exposure. Since patients with anxiety and depressive symptoms may have a higher intrinsic risk of death, the finding for benzodiazepines may be attributable to some extent to residual confounding.

Source: http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/


A Phase 1B, randomized, double blind, placebo controlled, multiple-dose escalation study of NSI-189 phosphate, a neurogenic compound, in depressed patients 


Molecular Psychiatry

Abstract

We wanted to examine tolerability and efficacy of NSI-189, a benzylpiperizine-aminiopyridine neurogenic compound for treating major depressive disorder (MDD). This was a Phase 1B, double blind, randomized, placebo controlled, multiple-dose study with three cohorts. The first cohort received 40 mg q.d. (n=6) or placebo (n=2), the second cohort 40 mg b.i.d. (n=6) or placebo (n=2), and the third cohort 40 mg t.i.d. (n=6) or placebo (n=2). Twenty-four patients with MDD were recruited, with the diagnosis and severity confirmed through remote interviews. Eligible patients received NSI-189 or placebo for 28 days in an inpatient setting with assessments for safety, pharmacokinetics (PK) and efficacy. Outpatient follow-up visits were conducted until day 84 (±3). NSI-189 was relatively well tolerated at all doses, with no serious adverse effects. NSI-189 area under the curve increased in a dose-related and nearly proportional manner across the three cohorts, with a half-life of 17.4–20.5 h. The exploratory efficacy measurements, including Symptoms Of Depression Questionnaire (SDQ), Montgomery-Asberg Depression Scale (MADRS), Clinical Global Impressions—Improvement (CGI-I), and The Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cognitive and Physical Functioning Questionnaire (CPFQ) showed a promising reduction in depressive and cognitive symptoms across all measures for NSI-189, with significant improvement in the SDQ and CPFQ, and a medium to large effect size for all measures. These improvements persisted during the follow-up phase. In summary, NSI-189 shows potential as a treatment for MDD in an early phase study. The main limitation of this preliminary study was the small sample size of each cohort.



Online Journals:




Biological Psychiatry - Volume 79, Issue 3, February 2016



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