News Round-Up: February 2011 1st Edition

  • Over at the Alzheimer’s Research Forum there is a look at new research which may shed light on early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Two studies are covered which look at in vitro research in murine fibroblasts comparing wild-type cells with presenilin gene knockout cells. The evidence from these studies suggests that these genes may play an important role in autophagy the process whereby a cell degrades its components.
  • Again at the Alzheimer’s Research Forum there is coverage of an initiative to standardise the collection of metabolic data – the Metabolomics Standards Initiative.  Laboratories use mass spectromoter data to describe the metabolic contents of cells but currently laboratories use widely varying methods. A standardisation of methods should facilitate a comprehensive description of metabolites in cells. In turn this information can be used with genomic and other data to better characterise disease process and investigate therepeutics.
  • A small cross-sectional structural 3T MRI study showed a significant volume reduction in the Amygdala in peeople with Alzheimer’s Disease compared to a control group of healthy older adult participants.
  • A small (n=68) longitudinal study found that examining vascular risk factors were a provided evidence of a significant association between the presence of vascular risk factors and the rate of cognitive and functional decline in people with Alzheimer’s Disease and it would be interesting to see a large replication study with detailed psychometry. The researchers also found an association between the vascular risk factors and regional cerebral blood flow differences which differed between the groups when using SPECT.
  • A Cochrane Database Systematic Review on antidepressants for agitation and psychosis in dementia was published in February 2011. The authors concluded that there were few relevant  studies although in some (but not all) of those identified the SSRI’s were associated with fewer side-effects when compared to antipsychotics as well as showing similar results on reduction in behavioural scores compared to comparator antipsychotics. However the performance of the antidepressant in comparison with placebo differed according to the behavioural scales used.  The authors call for further studies in this area.
  • There is a case report on ‘cough syrup psychosis’ resulting from excessive use of cough syrup. The authors attributed the psychosis to the ingredient dextromethorphan.
  • One group of researchers examined the question of whether weight gain is a correlate of improvement with antipsychotic treatment in people with schizophrenia. They concluded that an increase in BMI accounted for only 3% of the change in PANNS scores and therefore weight gain was not an important correlate. They go on to discuss the therepeutic implications.
  • In a small 8-week study people with schizophrenia either played computer games or engaged in high intensity training (HIT) aerobic exercise. The researchers found a significant improvement in physical outcome measures including maximal oxygen uptake but not in PANNS scores. They recommended HIT in rehabilitation programs.
  • In Neuroscience Letters one group reports an association between a common FOXP2 gene variant rs2396753 and grey matter volume in people with Schizophrenia compared to a control group. The FOXP2 gene is thought to play an important role in language.
  • There are a number of proposed changes to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence proposed in the Health and Social Care Bill which is currently passing through parliament where evidence is being given to the Public Bill Committee. Included in these changes is a broadening of the body’s role to encompass a number of  social care policies which has previously come under the jurisdiction of remit of the now defunct policy development function of the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).

Index: An index of the site can be found here. The page contains links to all of the articles in the blog in chronological order. Twitter: You can follow ‘The Amazing World of Psychiatry’ Twitter by clicking on this link. Podcast: You can listen to this post on Odiogo by clicking on this link (there may be a small delay between publishing of the blog article and the availability of the podcast). It is available for a limited period. TAWOP Channel: You can follow the TAWOP Channel on YouTube by clicking on this link. Responses: If you have any comments, you can leave them below or alternatively e-mail Disclaimer: The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.

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