Antipsychotic drugs linked to slight decrease in brain volume

7 08 2014

A study published on 2014, July 18 has confirmed a link between antipsychotic medication and a slight, but measureable, decrease in brain volume in patients with schizophrenia. For the first time, researchers have been able to examine whether this decrease is harmful for patients’ cognitive function and symptoms, and noted that over a nine year follow-up, this decrease did not appear to have any effect.

As we age, our brains naturally lose some of their volume – in other words, brain cells and connections. This process, known as atrophy, typically begins in our thirties and continues into old age. Researchers have known for some time that patients with schizophrenia lose brain volume at a faster rate than healthy individuals, though the reason why is unclear.

 

“The loss of brain volume doesn’t appear to have any effect on people, and patients should not stop their medication on the basis of this research”

-Graham Murray

Now, in a study published in the open access journal PLOS ONE, a team of researchers from the University of Oulu, Finland, and the University of Cambridge has identified the rate of decrease in both healthy individuals and patients with schizophrenia. They also documented where in the brain schizophrenia patients have more atrophy, and have examined links between atrophy and antipsychotic medication.

By comparing brain scans of 33 patients with schizophrenia with 71 control subjects over a period of 9 years – from age 34 to 43 – the researchers were able to show that schizophrenia patients lost brain volume at a rate of 0.7% each year. The control participants lost brain volume at a rate of 0.5% per year.

Scientists have previously speculated that antipsychotic medication used to treat schizophrenia may be linked to this decrease in brain volume. Today’s research confirms this association, showing that the rate of decrease in volume was greater when the dose of medication was higher. However, the mechanisms behind this – and whether it was in fact the medication that was causing this greater loss of tissue – are not clear. Some researchers have previously argued that whilst older antipsychotic medications might cause brain volume decreases, newer antipsychotic medications may protect against these decreases. However, today’s research suggests that both classes of antipsychotic medication are associated with similar declines in brain volume.

 

The researchers also looked at whether there was any link between the volume of brain lost and the severity of symptoms or loss of cognitive function, but found no effect.

 

Professor Juha Veijola from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oulu, Finland says: “We all lose some brain tissue as we get older, but people with schizophrenia lose it at a faster rate. We’ve shown that this loss seems to be linked to the antipsychotic medication people are taking. Research like this where patients are studied for many years can help to develop guidelines about when clinicians can reduce the dosage of antipsychotic medication in the long term treatment of people with schizophrenia.”

 

“It’s important to stress that the loss of brain volume doesn’t appear to have any effect on people over the nine year follow-up we conducted, and patients should not stop their medication on the basis of this research, ” adds Dr Graham Murray from the Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute and the Department of Psychiatry at University of Cambridge. “A key question in future will be to examine whether there is any effect of this loss of brain volume later in life. We need more research in larger studies with longer follow-ups to evaluate the significance of these brain changes.”

 

The research was supported by the Academy of Finland, Medical Research Council, Sigrid Jusélius Foundation, and the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.

 

 

 

Cam.ac.uk [en línea] Cambridge (UK): cam.ac.uk, 07 de agosto de 2014 [ref. 18 de julio de 2014] Disponible en Internet: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/antipsychotic-drugs-linked-to-slight-decrease-in-brain-volume



El Instituto Guttmann e Indra exportarán tecnología en telerehabilitación cognitiva

17 11 2011

Europa, Estados Unidos y Latinoamérica son los mercados donde el Instituto Guttmann y la empresa Indra comercializarán un innovador sistema que permite prestar servicios clínicos de neurorrehabilitación para el tratamiento del daño cerebral adquirido, las demencias, la esquizofrenia y los trastornos en el desarrollo infantil.

Registrado con la marca Guttmann NeuroPersonalTrainer®, este sistema utiliza los descubrimientos más recientes en neurociencia cognitiva y las soluciones más avanzadas en TIC e inteligencia artificial, como sistemas de KDD (descubrimiento de conocimiento a partir de datos) y Data Mining, de forma que permite la adaptación automática del sistema a las necesidades de cada paciente en tiempo real. El gran valor añadido es que presta un servicio personalizado, monitorizado —y, por tanto, generador de conocimiento— y con unos costes asumibles y sostenibles para los diferentes agentes sociales implicados.

El Guttmann NeuroPersonalTrainer® es resultado de un proyecto de investigación que se comenzó a desarrollar en 2003 bajo el nombre de Previrnec, entre el Instituto Guttmann, la Universitat Rovira i Virgili y el Centro de Investigación en Ingeniería Biomédica de la Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya.

A día de hoy, ha permitido tratar a más de 800 pacientes a través de las más de 20 plataformas instaladas en el propio Instituto Guttmann y en otros centros asistenciales, y más de 100 pacientes han podido recibir esta asistencia clínica desde su domicilio. En total, se han realizado unas 32.000 sesiones con más de 210.000 tareas, y unos resultados que demuestran que el 80% de los pacientes ofrece una mejora significativa con respecto a la atención, la memoria y las funciones ejecutivas.

Este modelo, que ha demostrado su eficacia clínica, aporta una solución eficiente tanto para el sistema sanitario público como privado, ya sea a través de los servicios de neurorrehabilitación de hospitales generales o comarcales, hospitales de día sociosanitarios, centros de día y residencias de personas mayores o en el domicilio del paciente.

Biocat.cat [en línea] Barcelona (España): biocat.cat, 17 de noviembre de 2011 [ref. 3 de noviembre de 2011] Disponible en Internet:

http://www.biocat.cat/es/noticias/el-instituto-guttmann-e-indra-exportaran-tecnologia-en-telerehabilitacion-cognitiva