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Journal Digest
Journal Digest
Psychiatric News
Volume 45 Number 16 page 23-23
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Wouldn't it be splendid if psychiatrists could identify adolescents at risk of suicide by taking a blood sample from them?

Such a scenario might be feasible thanks to a test developed by Damir Janigro, Ph.D., a professor of molecular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. Roche Diagnostics has purchased rights to the test.

The test would evaluate blood for levels of S100B, a calcium-binding protein implicated in blood-brain-barrier dysfunction.

Janigro, along with Cleveland Clinic child psychiatrist Tatiana Falcone, M.D., and their colleagues reported a study supporting the feasibility of such a test in the June 14 Plos One. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

They measured levels of S100B in blood from 40 adolescents with a psychosis diagnosis, 24 adolescents with mood disorders, and 20 healthy control adolescents, then evaluated all of them for suicidal ideation. They found that S100B in subjects' blood could be linked with suicidal ideation, specifically that S100B levels were significantly higher in subjects with suicidal ideation than in those without.

The results need to be replicated before S100B might be used as a biomarker for suicide, Janigro told Psychiatric News.

"A Potential Biomarker for Suicidality in Adolescents" can be accessed at <www.plosone.org> by searching on the title of the report.

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Depression is known to increase coronary heart disease patients' chances of experiencing more adverse cardiac events such as a heart attack, stroke, or even death. Now it looks as if anxiety produces a similar relationship, according to a study in the July Archives of General Psychiatry.

The study population included 1,015 outpatients with stable coronary heart disease. They were evaluated for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), then followed for an average of six years. During that period, they experienced 371 adverse cardiovascular events. Finally, the researchers looked to see whether there was a link between having had GAD and subsequently experiencing an adverse cardiac event.

There was, they found—a statistically significant one—and even when possibly confounding variables such as comorbid major depression or medication use were considered. GAD was associated with a 62 percent higher rate of cardiovascular events.

An abstract of "Scared to Death? Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Cardiovascular Events in Patients With Stable Coronary Heart Disease" is posted at <http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/67/7/750>.

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"The power of physical activity to raise the spirits of recovering stroke patients is stronger than anyone suspected," Jocelyn Harris, Ph.D., of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute announced at the Canadian Stroke Congress in June.

She described a study that she and colleagues had conducted that supports this conclusion. The study sample included 103 recovering stroke patients who were receiving standard treatment in the hospital. Half also received a program for upper-limb recovery called GRASP in which subjects spent 35 minutes four times a week doing non-intense arm exercises such as pouring water into a glass, buttoning a shirt, or playing games requiring speed and accuracy. Subjects were also evaluated for depression at the start of the study and four weeks later.

At the end of the four weeks, GRASP subjects had not only improved their stroke-affected arm and hand function by 33 percent, but had significantly less depression than the control subjects did.

An abstract of the paper "Role of Activity in the Reduction of Depressive Symptoms Post Stroke" is available by e-mail from Jane-Diane Fraser of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada at jfraser@hsf.ca.

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Intrepid scientists have long scoured the ocean for novel compounds that might make effective medications for humans. One of their latest "catches" appears to be a jellyfish protein—apoaequorin—that can boost memory in older people.

Quincy Bioscience, a biotechnology company in Madison, Wis., conducted the pilot study that supports the use of apoaequorin for memory problems.

The study included 35 individuals with an average age of 61 who had expressed concerns about their memory. Half received apoaequorin and half a placebo. Subjects were tested on spatial working memory and executive function at the start of the study and 60 days later. At the end of 60 days, results for the two groups were compared. The group getting apoaequorin showed a significantly greater improvement in spatial working memory and executive function than the placebo group did.

Study results were reported at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Honolulu in July.

More information about this study is available from Todd Olson at QuincyBioscience. His e-mail address is <tolson@quincybioscience.com>.

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By age 18, 90 percent of youth with Tourette syndrome will have only mild tics or no tics at all, research has shown.

Yet it looks as if they may not be so fortunate with regard to psychological outcomes, a study reported in the July British Journal of Psychiatry indicated. The lead investigator was Daniel Gorman, M.D., of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada.

Sixty-five individuals with the syndrome and 65 matched control subjects were evaluated at age 18 with the Children's Global Assessment Scale, an instrument widely used to assess overall psychiatric and social functioning in youth. The Tourette group had substantially lower global functioning scores and significantly higher rates of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, major depression, and conduct disorder than the control group did.

"Overall, our findings highlight the importance of closely monitoring children with Tourette syndrome as they mature for psychosocial impairment and comorbid conditions," the researchers concluded.

An abstract of "Psychosocial Outcome and Psychiatric Comorbidity in Older Adolescents With Tourette Syndrome: Controlled Study" is posted at <http://bjp.rcpsych.org/cgi/content/abstract/197/1/36>.

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Why do women who experience chronic bladder pain of unknown origin also often suffer from anxiety disorders and depression? It may be because they possess one or more genes that contribute to both conditions, a new study suggests.

The senior investigator was Niloofar Afari, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego. The study appeared in the May-June General Hospital Psychiatry.

The study included 1,165 female twins from a community-based sample. The researchers first confirmed what other researchers had found—that subjects with chronic bladder pain of unknown origin were more likely to be anxious and depressed than subjects without such pain. The researchers then found that after they adjusted for shared familial factors, the link between chronic bladder pain and anxiety and depression weakened statistically, implying that genes were at least partially responsible for the link.

But what gene or genes might explain the link? Maybe some on chromosome 13, other research has suggested. That research found a connection between certain genes on chromosome 13, chronic bladder pain of unknown origin, and anxiety disorders.

An abstract of "Psychological Distress in Twins With Urological Symptoms" can be accessed at <www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/01638343> by clicking on the May/June issue.blacksquare

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