Long-term effects of early treatment with SSRIs on cognition and brain development in individuals with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome.

Mancini V
Maeder J
Bortolin K
Schneider M
Schaer M
Eliez S
Scientific Abstract

Cognitive deficits in individuals at risk of psychosis represent a significant challenge for research, as current strategies for symptomatic treatment are often ineffective. Recent studies showed that atypical cognitive development predicts the occurrence of psychotic symptoms. Additionally, abnormal brain development is known to predate clinical manifestations of psychosis. Therefore, critical developmental stages may be the best period for early interventions expected to prevent cognitive decline and protect brain maturation. However, it is challenging to identify and treat individuals at risk of psychosis in the general population before the onset of the first psychotic symptoms. 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS), the neurogenetic disorder with the highest genetic risk for schizophrenia, provides the opportunity to prospectively study the development of subjects at risk for psychosis. In this retrospective cohort study, we aimed to establish if early treatment with SSRIs in children and adolescents with 22q11DS was associated with long-term effects on cognition and brain development. We included 98 participants with a confirmed diagnosis of 22q11DS followed up 2-4 times (age range: 10-32). Thirty subjects without psychiatric disorders never received psychotropic medications, thirty had psychotic symptoms but were not treated with SSRIs, and 38 received SSRIs treatment. An increase in IQ scores characterized the developmental trajectories of participants receiving treatment with SSRIs, even those with psychotic symptoms. The thickness of frontal regions and hippocampal volume were also relatively increased. The magnitude of the outcomes was inversely correlated to the age at the onset of the treatment. We provide preliminary evidence that early long-term treatment with SSRIs may attenuate the cognitive decline associated with psychosis in 22q11DS and developmental brain abnormalities.


2021. Transl Psychiatry, 11(1):336.

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