Psychiatry - Research Publications

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    Treatment of refractory obsessive-compulsive disorder with nutraceuticals (TRON): a 20-week, open label pilot study
    Sarris, J ; Byrne, GJ ; Oliver, G ; Cribb, L ; Blair-West, S ; Castle, D ; Dean, OM ; Camfield, DA ; Brakoulias, V ; Bousman, C ; Dowling, N ; Ee, C ; Murphy, J ; Menon, R ; Berk, M ; Chamoli, S ; Boschen, M ; Ng, CH (CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS, 2021-06-21)
    BACKGROUND: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is often challenging to treat and resistant to psychological interventions and prescribed medications. The adjunctive use of nutraceuticals with potential neuromodulatory effects on underpinning pathways such as the glutamatergic and serotonergic systems is one novel approach. OBJECTIVE: To assess the effectiveness and safety of a purpose-formulated combination of nutraceuticals in treating OCD: N-acetyl cysteine, L-theanine, zinc, magnesium, pyridoxal-5' phosphate, and selenium. METHODS: A 20-week open label proof-of-concept study was undertaken involving 28 participants with treatment-resistant DSM-5-diagnosed OCD, during 2017 to 2020. The primary outcome measure was the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (YBOCS), administered every 4 weeks. RESULTS: An intention-to-treat analysis revealed an estimated mean reduction across time (baseline to week-20) on the YBOCS total score of -7.13 (95% confidence interval = -9.24, -5.01), with a mean reduction of -1.21 points per post-baseline visit (P ≤ .001). At 20-weeks, 23% of the participants were considered "responders" (YBOCS ≥35% reduction and "very much" or "much improved" on the Clinical Global Impression-Improvement scale). Statistically significant improvements were also revealed on all secondary outcomes (eg, mood, anxiety, and quality of life). Notably, treatment response on OCD outcome scales (eg, YBOCS) was greatest in those with lower baseline symptom levels, while response was limited in those with relatively more severe OCD. CONCLUSIONS: While this pilot study lacks placebo-control, the significant time effect in this treatment-resistant OCD population is encouraging and suggests potential utility especially for those with lower symptom levels. Our findings need to be confirmed or refuted via a follow-up placebo-controlled study.
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    Legalization of Psychedelic Substances
    Downey, LA ; Sarris, J ; Perkins, D (AMER MEDICAL ASSOC, 2021-12-21)
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    Ayahuasca and Childhood Trauma: Potential Therapeutic Applications
    Perkins, D ; Sarris, J ; Caiuby Labate, B ; Cavnar, C (Springer International Publishing, 2021)
    The last 20 years have seen major developments in the understanding of how childhood trauma (negative events that cause distress and overwhelm a person’s ability to cope) can have long-term effects on the health and well-being of adults who have experienced this. Child sexual abuse was first included in global burden of disease and disability estimates in 2004, and there has been a steady accumulation of research and evidence identifying the public health issues and costs associated with various traumatic childhood experiences. Much of this research has used the framework of adverse childhood experiences or ACEs, which encompass emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, as well as various other adverse events, including growing up in a household in which there is domestic violence, alcohol or drug abuse, or a member with mental illness; criminal behavior or incarceration of a family member; caregiver separation or divorce; and neglect, both physical and emotional. Such experiences have been found to be associated with higher rates of physical and mental illness, disability, and premature death in adulthood.
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    Potential biomarkers of major depression diagnosis and chronicity
    de Menezes Galvao, AC ; Almeida, RN ; de Sousa Junior, GM ; Leocadio-Miguel, MA ; Palhano-Fontes, F ; de Araujo, DB ; Lobao-Soares, B ; Maia-de-Oliveira, JP ; Nunes, EA ; Cecilio Hallak, JE ; Sarris, J ; Galvao-Coelho, NL ; Li, Z (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2021-09-29)
    BACKGROUND: Molecular biomarkers are promising tools to be routinely used in clinical psychiatry. Among psychiatric diseases, major depression disorder (MDD) has gotten attention due to its growing prevalence and morbidity. METHODS: We tested some peripheral molecular parameters such as serum mature Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (mBDNF), plasma C-Reactive Protein (CRP), serum cortisol (SC), and the salivary Cortisol Awakening Response (CAR), as well as the Pittsburgh sleep quality inventory (PSQI), as part of a multibiomarker panel for potential use in MDD diagnosis and evaluation of disease's chronicity using regression models, and ROC curve. RESULTS: For diagnosis model, two groups were analyzed: patients in the first episode of major depression (MD: n = 30) and a healthy control (CG: n = 32). None of those diagnosis models tested had greater power than Hamilton Depression Rating Scale-6. For MDD chronicity, a group of patients with treatment-resistant major depression (TRD: n = 28) was tested across the MD group. The best chronicity model (p < 0.05) that discriminated between MD and TRD included four parameters, namely PSQI, CAR, SC, and mBDNF (AUC ROC = 0.99), with 96% of sensitivity and 93% of specificity. CONCLUSION: These results indicate that changes in specific biomarkers (CAR, SC, mBDNF and PSQI) have potential on the evaluation of MDD chronicity, but not for its diagnosis. Therefore, these findings can contribute for further studies aiming the development of a stronger model to be commercially available and used in psychiatry clinical practice.
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    Effects of a group-based lifestyle medicine for depression: A pilot randomized controlled trial
    Ip, AK-Y ; Ho, FY-Y ; Yeung, W-F ; Chung, K-F ; Ng, CH ; Oliver, G ; Sarris, J ; Abdelbasset, WK (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2021-10-08)
    Given the growing evidence that a range of lifestyle factors are involved in the etiology of depression, a 'lifestyle medicine' approach can be potentially safe and cost-effective to prevent or treat depression. To examine the effects and acceptability of a group-based, integrative lifestyle medicine intervention as a standalone treatment for managing depressive symptoms, a pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) was conducted in a Chinese adult population in 2018. Participants (n = 31) with PHQ-9 score above the cut-off of ≥ 10, which was indicative of moderate to severe depression, were recruited from the general community in Hong Kong and randomly assigned to lifestyle medicine group (LM group) or care-as-usual group (CAU group) in a ratio of 1:1. Participants in the LM group received 2-hour group sessions once per week for six consecutive weeks, which covered diet, exercise, mindfulness, psychoeducation, and sleep management. Linear mixed-effects model analyses showed that the LM group had a significant reduction in PHQ-9 scores compared to the CAU group at immediate posttreatment and 12-week posttreatment follow-up (d = 0.69 and 0.73, respectively). Moreover, there were significantly greater improvements in anxiety, stress, and insomnia symptoms (measured by DASS-21 and ISI) at all time points in the LM group (d = 0.42-1.16). The results suggests that our 6-week group-based, integrative lifestyle intervention program is effective in lowering depressive, anxiety, stress, and insomnia symptoms in the Chinese population. Further studies in clinical populations with a larger sample size and longer follow-up are warranted.
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    Effects of cannabis ingestion on endometriosis-associated pelvic pain and related symptoms
    Sinclair, J ; Collett, L ; Abbott, J ; Pate, DW ; Sarris, J ; Armour, M ; Raimondo, D (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2021-10-26)
    BACKGROUND: The use of cannabis for symptoms of endometriosis was investigated utilising retrospective archival data from Strainprint Technologies Ltd., a Canadian data technology company with a mobile phone application that tracks a range of data including dose, mode of administration, chemovar and their effects on various self-reported outcomes, including pelvic pain. METHODS: A retrospective, electronic record-based cohort study of StrainprintTM users with self-reported endometriosis was conducted. Self-rated cannabis efficacy, defined as a function of initial and final symptom ratings, was investigated across the included symptom clusters of cramps, pelvic pain, gastrointestinal pain, nausea, depression, and low libido. Cannabis dosage form, dose and cannabinoid ratio information was also recorded. RESULTS: A total number of 252 participants identifying as suffering endometriosis recorded 16193 sessions using cannabis between April 2017 and February 2020. The most common method of ingestion was inhalation (n = 10914, 67.4%), with pain as the most common reported symptom being treated by cannabis (n = 9281, 57.3%). Gastrointestinal symptoms, though a less common reason for cannabis usage (15.2%), had the greatest self-reported improvement after use. Inhaled forms had higher efficacy for pain, while oral forms were superior for mood and gastrointestinal symptoms. Dosage varied across ingestion methods, with a median dose of 9 inhalations (IQR 5 to 11) for inhaled dosage forms and 1 mg/mL (IQR 0.5 to 2) for other ingested dosage forms. The ratio of THC to CBD had a statistically significant, yet clinically small, differential effect on efficacy, depending on method of ingestion. CONCLUSIONS: Cannabis appears to be effective for pelvic pain, gastrointestinal issues and mood, with effectiveness differing based on method of ingestion. The greater propensity for use of an inhaled dosage delivery may be due to the rapid onset of pain-relieving effects versus the slower onset of oral products. Oral forms appeared to be superior compared to inhaled forms in the less commonly reported mood or gastrointestinal categories. Clinical trials investigating the tolerability and effectiveness of cannabis for endometriosis pain and associated symptoms are urgently required.
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    Pathophysiology of Major Depression by Clinical Stages
    de Menezes Galvao, AC ; Almeida, RN ; de Sousa, GM ; Leocadio-Miguel, MA ; Palhano-Fontes, F ; de Araujo, DB ; Lobao-Soares, B ; Maia-de-Oliveira, JP ; Nunes, EA ; Cecilio Hallak, JE ; Schuch, FB ; Sarris, J ; Galvao-Coelho, NL (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2021-08-05)
    The comprehension of the pathophysiology of the major depressive disorder (MDD) is essential to the strengthening of precision psychiatry. In order to determine the relationship between the pathophysiology of the MDD and its clinical progression, analyzed by severity of the depressive symptoms and sleep quality, we conducted a study assessing different peripheral molecular biomarkers, including the levels of plasma C-reactive protein (CRP), serum mature brain-derived neurotrophic factor (mBDNF), serum cortisol (SC), and salivary cortisol awakening response (CAR), of patients with MDD (n = 58) and a control group of healthy volunteers (n = 62). Patients with the first episode of MDD (n = 30) had significantly higher levels of CAR and SC than controls (n = 32) and similar levels of mBDNF of controls. Patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD, n = 28) presented significantly lower levels of SC and CAR, and higher levels of mBDNF and CRP than controls (n = 30). An increased severity of depressive symptoms and worse sleep quality were correlated with levels low of SC and CAR, and with high levels of mBDNF. These results point out a strong relationship between the stages clinical of MDD and changes in a range of relevant biological markers. This can assist in the development of precision psychiatry and future research on the biological tests for depression.
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    Therapeutic Opportunities for Food Supplements in Neurodegenerative Disease and Depression
    Businaro, R ; Vauzour, D ; Sarris, J ; Munch, G ; Gyengesi, E ; Brogelli, L ; Zuzarte, P (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2021-05-14)
    Emerging evidence is showing nutrition as a crucial factor in the high prevalence and incidence of neurodegenerative mental disorders. Preventive interventions on neuroinflammation seem to be able to interfere with neurodegeneration. Supplementation of essential nutrients, such as long-chain-polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E and mineral elements, may minimize inflammation, enhancing antioxidative defense, and lowering the risk and incidence of age-related diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases and neurodegenerative diseases. This manuscript reviews the current evidence on the role of neuroinflammation in the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative and mental disorders, and preventive strategies for food supplementation in these neuropsychiatric diseases. Dietary supplementation-based strategies have been demonstrated to be effective in subjects with mild cognitive impairment, while weaker results have been obtained in patients with advance neurodegenerative disease. Adjunctive supplementation has also been demonstrated to improve depression, this being of marked benefit considering the comorbidity between cognitive impairment/dementia and depression. Further research is needed to improve the prescriptive precision of supplementation in patients, and to better understand potential interactions with clinical and pharmacokinetic factors.
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    Herbal medicines and phytochemicals for obsessive-compulsive disorder
    Ayati, Z ; Sarris, J ; Chang, D ; Emami, SA ; Rahimi, R (WILEY, 2020-03-02)
    Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a relatively prevalent mental disorder that poses significant health burdens on the community. Although current conventional medications have good efficacy for many patients, they can elicit a range of associated adverse effects. Plant-based compounds have been evaluated for different mental disorders, with a range of anxiolytic properties revealed. To determine the current evidence in the area, we conducted a systematic review using the electronic databases including PubMed, Scopus, and the Cochrane Library up to June 12, 2019, for pharmacological and clinical evidence of herbal medicines and phytochemicals with antiobsessive-compulsive effects. Additional search criteria were employed for locating research on the underpinning mechanisms of action. Results revealed that tentative low-quality evidence exists for several plant medicines, including Crocus sativus, Silybum marianum, Echium amoenum, Hypericum perforatum, and Withania somnifera, along with several natural molecules, including crocin, cannabidiol, and curcumin. Although more research is needed to confirm effectiveness, present preclinical studies indicate that monoamine pathway modulation (in particular serotonin reuptake inhibition) may be the most important anti-OCD mechanism among the studied natural compounds.
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    Handgrip Strength Is Associated With Hippocampal Volume and White Matter Hyperintensities in Major Depression and Healthy Controls: A UK Biobank Study
    Firth, JA ; Smith, L ; Sarris, J ; Vancampfort, D ; Schuch, F ; Carvalho, AF ; Solmi, M ; Yung, AR ; Stubbs, B ; Firth, J (LIPPINCOTT WILLIAMS & WILKINS, 2020-01-01)
    OBJECTIVE: Emerging evidence suggests that handgrip strength (a proxy for muscular fitness) is associated with better cognitive performance in people with major depressive disorder (MDD). The underlying processes are unclear, although hippocampal volume (HCV) reductions and white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) have been implicated. Therefore, we investigated the associations between handgrip strength and various brain region volumes and WMHs in MDD and healthy controls (HCs). METHODS: This study is a cross-sectional analysis of handgrip strength and neuroimaging data from the UK Biobank. Generalized linear models were used to assess the relationship between grip strength and gray matter, white matter, total brain volume, left and right hippocampus volume, and WMHs in MDD and HCs, adjusting for age, sex, education, and body weight. RESULTS: The sample included 527 people with MDD (54.3 ± 7.3 years, 37.2% male) and 1764 HCs (56.6 ± 7.2 years, 53% male). In MDD, stronger handgrip was significantly associated with increased left (coefficient ± SE = 108.1 ± 27.6, t = 3.92) and right (76.8 ± 30.4, t = 2.53) HCV. In HCs, only right HCV related to handgrip strength (44.8 ± 18.1, t = 2.47). Interaction analyses found stronger associations between grip strength and HCV in MDD compared with HCs, for both hippocampal regions. Stronger handgrip was associated with reduced WMHs in people with MDD (-0.24 ± 0.07, t = -3.24) and HCs (-0.11 ± 0.04, t = -2.47). Maximal handgrip strength was not associated with gray matter, white matter, or total brain volumes in either group. CONCLUSIONS: Stronger grip strength is associated with greater left and right HCV and reduced WMHs in MDD. Future research should investigate directionality and consider if interventions targeting strength/muscular fitness can improve brain health and reduce the neurocognitive abnormalities associated with MDD.