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Schizophrenia Polygenic Risk Score and 20-Year Course of Illness in Psychotic Disorders

By Katherine G. Jonas, Todd Lencz, Kaiqiao Li, Anil K. Malhotra, Greg Perlman, Laura J Fochtmann, Evelyn J Bromet, Roman Kotov

Posted 18 Mar 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/581579 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41398-019-0612-5)

Understanding whether and how the schizophrenia polygenic risk score (SZ PRS) predicts course of illness could improve diagnostics and prognostication in psychotic disorders. We tested whether the SZ PRS predicts symptoms, cognition, illness severity, and diagnostic changes over the 20 years following first admission. The Suffolk County Mental Health Project is an inception cohort study of first-admission patients with psychosis. Patients were assessed six times over 20 years, and 249 provided DNA. Geographically- and demographically-matched never psychotic adults were recruited at year 20, and 205 provided DNA. Symptoms were rated using the Schedule for the Assessment of Positive Symptoms and Schedule for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms. Cognition was evaluated with a comprehensive neuropsychological battery. Illness severity and diagnosis were determined by consensus of study psychiatrists. SZ PRS was significantly higher in first-admission than never psychotic groups. Within the psychosis cohort, the SZ PRS predicted more severe negative symptoms (β = 0.21), lower GAF (β = -0.28), and worse cognition (β = -0.35), across the follow-up. The SZ PRS was the strongest predictor of diagnostic shifts from affective to non-affective psychosis over the 20 years (AUC = 0.62). The SZ PRS predicts persistent differences in cognition and negative symptoms. The SZ PRS also predicts who among those who appear to have a mood disorder with psychosis at first admission will ultimately be diagnosed with a schizophrenia spectrum disorder. These findings show potential for the SZ PRS to become a powerful tool for diagnosis and treatment planning.

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