Schizophrenia News December 2012

  • US researchers determined individuals with schizophrenia have elevated levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) compared with people who do not have this illness.


    The study tracked 295 patients with schizophrenia, 192 with bipolar, and 228 controls without a psychiatric condition.  The study accounted for age, gender, race, maternal education, smoking status and body mass index.


    The literature indicates that schizophrenia is linked to immune activation and elevated CRP.  The study adds to this knowledge and the researchers suggest genetic and environmental factors, might have a role even though the underlying mechanisms linking elevated CRP and schizophrenia have not been identified.

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    Increased levels of CRP are thought to lead to cardiac disease and in some instances sudden death.  Lowing the CRP level and other inflammatory markers could possibly benefit individuals with schizophrenia.


    (C-reactive protein levels increased in schizophrenia, retrieved on December 7, 2012 from . . .)


    Poor sleep could trigger schizophrenia symptoms, according to neuroscientists studying the link.  Irregular sleep patterns and desynchronized brain activity during sleep could trigger the symptoms. 


    The team used a rat model of the disease that showed disruption in the normal pattern of travel of waves of activity.


    Dr. Matt Jones, the lead researcher, suggests therefore that sleep disturbances might be a cause, not just a consequence of schizophrenia.


    In the extreme, prolonged lack of sleep can cause hallucinations, memory loss and confusion.  Commonly, sleep loss can affect mood, concentration and stress levels.


    (Could Poor Sleep Contribute to Symptoms of Schizophrenia? retrieved on December 7, 2012 from


    Individuals with schizophrenia who fail to respond to antipsychotic medication appear to have normal levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine.


    While this illness is typically linked to an overactive dopamine system, and the drugs attempt to balance this process by blocking dopamine, about one-third of people diagnosed with schizophrenia do not respond to treatment.


    The researchers from King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry suggest "there may be a different molecular mechanism leading to schizophrenia in patients who do not respond to anti-psychotic medication."


    The study used PET scan imaging to investigate dopamine synthesis capacity in 12 individuals with schizophrenia who did not respond to treatment, 12 who did and 12 healthy controls.


    The findings need to be confirmed in larger samples in order to change clinical practice.


    The researchers suggest future studies will need to involve patients who have never taken antipsychotics in order to see if the dopamine system was normal in the treatment-resistant patients at the beginning of the disorder, before any exposure to antipsychotic drugs.


    (Pedersen, T. (2012). Why Some Schizophrenia Patients are Unresponsive to Antipsychotic Drugs, PsychCentral. Retrieved on December 7, 2012 from . . .)


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    Good news:


    Older adults with schizophrenia can achieve sustained remission with appropriate psychosocial stimulation and support, according to Dr. Dilip V. Jeste, president of the American Psychiatric Association and chief of geriatric psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego (U CSD).


    UCSD researchers examined more than 1,400 middle-aged and older people with schizophrenia.  Eighty percent exhibited prodromal symptoms of the illness before the age of 40. 


    In longitudinal follow-up with clinical, neuropsychological, and functional evaluations, the team found that "People with schizophrenia who were adequately treated had a relatively stable course improvement over time in psychotic symptoms, and a rate of age-related cognitive change similar to that of people without schizophrenia."


    While the study participants experienced age-related declines in physical health, they reported improvements in mental health via self-rated quality of life assessments, according to the researchers.


    "Predictors of sustained remission include social support, being or having been married, having comparatively greater cognitive and personality reserves, and getting early treatment."


    However, according to Dr. Jeste: neither age nor duration of schizophrenia are accurate predictors of successful, sustained remission. He cited the example of Elyn Saks, the author of The Center Cannot Hold, who I interviewed here in 2007.


    Dr. Jeste linked psychosocial interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and social skills training, functional adaptation training, diabetes awareness, vocational rehabilitation and other programs as having significant positive effects on older people with schizophrenia.


    (Older Adults With Schizophrenia Can Achieve Remission, retrieved on November 14, 2012 from . . .)

Published On: December 16, 2012