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Molecular and neuronal markers as prognostic tools for the evolution of first episode psychosis and the modulating effects of cannabis

Although schizophrenia is a highly disabling mental illness, current therapy does not significantly improve negative symptoms and cognitive deficits, the main determinants of loss of functionality. In particular, cognitive impairment, which appears before the first psychotic episode, is a predictor of functional outcome in patients. In addition, cannabis use, which involves a higher risk of developing psychosis and of doing so earlier, has a role in the cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. There is a great consensus for the need to intervene early to improve prognosis and long-term functionality. However, the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie cognitive alterations in this disease are still unknown. The objective of this project is to identify prognostic molecular and neuronal biomarkers of evolution of psychotic disorders that will allow us to advance in the diagnosis and the early intervention of the disease. First, we will study alterations in brain connectivity using functional magnetic resonance, changes in the expression of CB1-5HT2A heteromers in olfactory neuroepithelium and cognitive functioning in patients with first psychotic episodes compared to healthy controls and patients with schizophrenia treated chronically. In a second phase, we will study the evolution of these markers after a year and a half treatment with antipsychotics. In addition, we will identify the modulation that cannabis use exerts on these markers and their impact on the cognitive deficits present in schizophrenia.

Funding

  • Instituto Carlos III PI18/00053 (PI: Daniel Bergé)

Relevant publications

Bergé D, Pretus C, Guell X, Pous A, Arcos A, Pérez V, Vilarroya O. Reduced willingness to invest effort in schizophrenia with high negative symptoms regardless of reward stimulus presentation and reward value. Compr Psychiatry 2018; 87: 153-160.