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Vitamin D and the brain.

Vitamin D and the brain.

Vitamin D deficiency is common in the adult population. We have an ongoing program of research to examine the effects of hypovitaminosis D during pregnancy and in adulthood in animal models. The focus of my presentation will be on the mechanism by which vitamin D, a steroid hormone with diverse physiological roles, can influence brain function and behaviour.

We have examined gestational and adult vitamin D deficiency in a number of different rodent models and investigated levels of both excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters in whole brain, as well as key enzymes involved with their synthesis.

We have convergent evidence that the balance of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters is affected during periods of vitamin D deficiency. We also have data to show that there are subtle but persistent effects on behaviours with relevance to the positive symptoms of schizophrenia and altered cognitive function.

This research has translatable implications for public health because vitamin D is a modifiable risk factor and vitamin D supplementation is safe and cheap and could be addressed within the framework of recommendations for the consumption of other key nutrients.

Conference: ASC 2013
Areas of Interest / Categories: ASC 2013

ASC 2013

The effect of symptomatic improvement on gamma synchrony in psychosis: a pilot study.

Impaired functional connectivity, as measured by synchronous gamma activity, has been observed in both the early and chronic stages of schizophrenia, as well as in unaffected first-degree relatives. This suggests gamma synchrony may be a trait-like marker of psychosis susceptibility, and not just a state-dependant characteristic. To conduct a pilot study into the short-term temporal stability of gamma synchrony and its relationship to symptomatic improvement in young patients who have been treated for recent onset psychosis. 20 medicated subjects underwent both clinical (PANSS) and electrophysiological (auditory oddball task during EEG) evaluation at both baseline and 8 weeks follow-up.

The effect of symptomatic improvement on gamma synchrony in psychosis: a pilot study.

Impaired functional connectivity, as measured by synchronous gamma activity, has been observed in both the early and chronic stages of schizophrenia, as well as in unaffected first-degree relatives. This suggests gamma synchrony may be a trait-like marker of psychosis susceptibility, and not just a state-dependant characteristic. To conduct a pilot study into the short-term temporal stability of gamma synchrony and its relationship to symptomatic improvement in young patients who have been treated for recent onset psychosis. 20 medicated subjects underwent both clinical (PANSS) and electrophysiological (auditory oddball task during EEG) evaluation at both baseline and 8 weeks follow-up.

Cerebral cortical grey matter deficits in schizophrenia and their associations with ageing, psychopathology, cognition and treatment response.

The diagnosis of schizophrenia lacks a broadly accepted biological basis and its heterogeneity may well represent a group of disorders with different aetiologies. Even so, brain imaging can map and quantify structural brain abnormalities in vivo as an intermediate (or endo-) phenotype of the disorder. To identify the degree of regional grey matter deficits in relation to age, the severity of psychopathology and cognitive/ neurological impairment, and treatment response in schizophrenia. Eighteen schizophrenia patients (32.2 years [SD 14.3], meeting DSM-IV criteria were examined. Eighteen pair-wise age (±2 years) and gender-matched healthy volunteers (31.9 years [SD 14.3]) served as control group.

Role of intracellular mediators in clozapine induced ErbB1-ERK signalling in prefrontal cortical neurons: relevance to therapeutic efficacy.

Dysregulation of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) system, implicated in synaptic plasticity, long-term potentiation and dendritic spine connectivity has been linked to schizophrenia. For instance, in patient brain and blood low EGF levels resulting in compensatory up-regulation of the EGF receptor (ErbB1) is postulated to represent a hypofunctioning signalling state. Consistent with this hypothesis our preclinical in vitro and in vivo data demonstrate that the antipsychotic drug clozapine increases ErbB1 signalling via G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) transactivation in prefrontal cortex and striatum1,2,3. The clozapine induced increase in ErbB1 signalling results in delayed activation of the extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK) pathway with downstream activation of the transcription factors, p90RSK and c-Fos.

Serum epidermal growth factor levels are reduced in people with treatment resistant schizophrenia and modulated by clozapine treatment.

Up to 45% of patients with schizophrenia are treatment resistant to conventional drugs leaving clozapine as the only effective option. Its severe side-effects however limit it to a late stage option and the development of a biomarker to predict treatment response would be of high clinical utility. Our previous data demonstrate clozapine augments epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling and hence we examined if EGF levels may be altered in treatment resistant schizophrenia (TRS) and are influenced by clozapine treatment. Study objectives: To determine if EGF levels are influenced by clozapine in TRS and can serve as a biomarker for clozapine response.

The effect of Ketamine on striatal functional connectivity as a model for risk for psychosis.

Ketamine is a potent antagonist of the N-methyld-aspartate receptor that induces positive psychotic symptoms in healthy individuals reminiscent of those seen in people with schizophrenia. Ketamine is believed to act by imposing a broad modulatory effect on brain networks, particularly cortico-striatothalamic circuitry. To investigate the effect of a sub-anaesthetic dose of ketamine on the resting-state functional connectivity of dorsal and ventral corticostriatal circuits, structures that have strongly been implicated in the emergence of psychotic symptoms, and to characterize the symptom correlates of putative changes in cortico-striato-thalamic functional connectivity induced by ketamine infusion.

Cardiometabolic risk indicators at 18-64 years in Australians with psychosis

Individuals with psychosis have an elevated risk for heart disease and are more likely to die prematurely from heart disease than the general population. The age at which cardiovascular risk indicators are first elevated relative to the general population is unknown. Mean waist circumference, BMI, blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, triglycerides, LDL, HDL and total cholesterol were plotted by age and sex in a representative sample of 1,642 individuals with psychosis (aged 18+) who were in contact with mental health services and 11,247 controls (aged 25+) from the general population. Correlations between risk indicators were compared between samples.