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Relationship between membrane fatty acids and cognitive symptoms and information processing in individuals at ultra-high risk for psychosis
journal contributionposted on 2014-09-01, 00:00 authored by S W Kim, M R Schäfer, C M Klier, Michael BerkMichael Berk, S Rice, K Allott, C F Bartholomeusz, S L Whittle, E Pilioussis, C Pantelis, P D McGorry, G P Amminger
Cognitive symptoms and impairment are central to schizophrenia and often an early sign of this condition. The present study investigated biological correlates of cognitive symptoms and performance in individuals at ultra-high risk (UHR) for psychosis. The study sample comprised 80 neuroleptic-naïve UHR individuals aged 13-25 years. Associations among erythrocyte membrane fatty acid levels, measured by gas chromatography, and cognitive functioning were investigated in UHR patients. Subjects were divided into terciles based on their scores on the cognitive factor of the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale. The Zahlen-Verbindungs Test (ZVT) (the number-combination test) was also used as a measure of information-processing speed. Exploratory analysis was conducted to investigate the relationship between membrane fatty acid levels with the size of the intracranial area (ICA), a neurodevelopmental measure relevant to schizophrenia, in half of subjects (n=40) using magnetic resonance imaging. The adjusted analysis revealed that omega-9 eicosenoic and erucic acid levels were significantly higher, but omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid levels were significantly lower, in the cognitively impaired than in the cognitively intact group. We found a significant negative association of eicosenoic, erucic, and gamma-linoleic acids with ZVT scores. A negative association between ICA and membrane levels of eicosenoic acid was also found. This is the first study to demonstrate the relationship between membrane fatty acids and cognitive function in neuroleptic-naïve subjects at UHR for psychosis. The study findings indicate that abnormalities in membrane fatty acids may be associated with the neurodevelopmental disruption associated with the cognitive impairments of individuals at UHR for psychosis.