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Antipsychotics Do Not Influence Neurological Soft Signs in Children and Adolescents at Ultra-High Risk for Psychosis

A Pilot Study

PITZIANTI, MARIABERNARDA, MD; CASARELLI, LIVIA, MD; PONTILLO, MARIA, MD; VICARI, STEFANO, MD; ARMANDO, MARCO, MD; PASINI, AUGUSTO, MD, PhD

Journal of Psychiatric Practice®: May 2019 - Volume 25 - Issue 3 - p 186–191
doi: 10.1097/PRA.0000000000000387
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Objective: Ultra-high risk for psychosis (UHR) is considered as the condition that temporally precedes the onset of psychotic symptoms. In addition to the core symptoms, patients with schizophrenia show motor abnormalities, also known as neurological soft signs (NSS), that are considered an endophenotype for psychotic disorders and particularly for schizophrenia. Antipsychotic medications do not appear to influence NSS in individuals with schizophrenia. However, NSS in UHR subjects have been poorly studied and, to date, we do not know what effects antipsychotics have in early treated UHR subjects. Therefore, we evaluated NSS in treated UHR subjects in comparison with drug-naive UHR subjects and a group of healthy control subjects and the effect of pharmacological treatment on early treated UHR children and adolescents.

Patients and Methods: Fifteen UHR subjects receiving pharmacological treatment, 15 drug-naive UHR subjects, and 25 healthy control subjects were evaluated for NSS to analyze any differences between clinical subjects and healthy controls and to evaluate the effect of antipsychotic medications in early treated UHR subjects.

Results: Both clinical groups showed a greater number of NSS compared with the healthy control subjects. However, no significant differences in NSS were found between treated and drug-naive UHR subjects.

Conclusions: Consistent with what has been observed in the population of patients with a first psychotic episode and/or with schizophrenia, our results support the conclusion that antipsychotic medications do not influence NSS in children and adolescents who are at high risk for psychosis.

PITZIANTI, PASINI: Department of Systems Medicine, Unit of Child Neurology and Psychiatry, “Tor Vergata” University of Rome, and USL Umbria 2, Terni, Italy

CASARELLI: Department of Systems Medicine, Unit of Child Neurology and Psychiatry, “Tor Vergata” University of Rome, Italy

PONTILLO, VICARI, ARMANDO: Department of Neuroscience, Unit of Child Neuropsychiatry, Children’s Hospital Bambino Gesù, IRCCS, Rome, Italy

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Please send correspondence to: Augusto Pasini, MD, PhD Department of Systems Medicine, Unit of Child Neurology and Psychiatry, “Tor Vergata” University of Rome, Viale Oxford 81, Rome 00133, Italy (e-mail: pasini@uniroma2.it).

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