Basic Symptoms Are Associated With Age in Patients With a Clinical High-Risk State for Psychosis: Results From the PRONIA Study

the PRONIA-consortium

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In community studies, both attenuated psychotic symptoms (APS) and basic symptoms (BS) were more frequent but less clinically relevant in children and adolescents compared to adults. In doing so, they displayed differential age thresholds that were around age 16 for APS, around age 18 for perceptive BS, and within the early twenties for cognitive BS. Only the age effect has previously been studied and replicated in clinical samples for APS. Thus, we examined the reported age effect on and age thresholds of 14 criteria-relevant BS in a patient sample at clinical-high risk of psychosis (N = 261, age 15–40 yrs.), recruited within the European multicenter PRONIA-study. BS and the BS criteria, “Cognitive Disturbances” (COGDIS) and “Cognitive-perceptive BS” (COPER), were assessed with the “Schizophrenia Proneness Instrument, Adult version” (SPI-A). Using logistic regressions, prevalence rates of perceptive and cognitive BS, and of COGDIS and COPER, as well as the impact of social and role functioning on the association between age and BS were studied in three age groups (15–18 years, 19–23 years, 24–40 years). Most patients (91.2%) reported any BS, 55.9% any perceptive and 87.4% any cognitive BS. Furthermore, 56.3% met COGDIS and 80.5% COPER. Not exhibiting the reported differential age thresholds, both perceptive and cognitive BS, and, at trend level only, COPER were less prevalent in the oldest age group (24–40 years); COGDIS was most frequent in the youngest group (15–18 years). Functional deficits did not better explain the association with age, particularly in perceptive BS and cognitive BS meeting the frequency requirement of BS criteria. Our findings broadly confirmed an age threshold in BS and, thus, the earlier assumed link between presence of BS and brain maturation processes. Yet, age thresholds of perceptive and cognitive BS did not differ. This lack of differential age thresholds might be due to more pronounced the brain abnormalities in this clinical sample compared to earlier community samples. These might have also shown in more frequently occurring and persistent BS that, however, also resulted from a sampling toward these, i.e., toward COGDIS. Future studies should address the neurobiological basis of CHR criteria in relation to age.

Original languageEnglish
Article number552175
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Recognition and Prevention Programat the Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York, directed by Barbara Cornblatt, PhD, MBA, for providing the Global Functioning: Social and Role scales. We thank Andrea M. Auther, PhD, Associate Director of Recognition and Prevention Program and coauthor of the Global Functioning scales for overseeing the training and implementation of the scales. They were not compensated for their contributions. PRONIA consortium members performed the screening, recruitment, rating and examination and were involved in implementing the examination protocols of the study, setting up its information technological infrastructure, and organizing the flow and quality control of the data analyzed in this article between the local study sites and the central study database. Funding. The PRONIA study is a Collaborative Project funded by the European Union under the 7th Framework Program (Grant 602152). CP was supported by an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Senior Principal Research Fellowship (1105825) and NHMRC-EU Grant (NHMRC ID: 1075379).

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2020 Walger, Antonucci, Pigoni, Upthegrove, Salokangas, Lencer, Chisholm, Riecher-Rössler, Haidl, Meisenzahl, Rosen, Ruhrmann, Kambeitz, Kambeitz-Ilankovic, Falkai, Ruef, Hietala, Pantelis, Wood, Brambilla, Bertolino, Borgwardt, Koutsouleris and Schultze-Lutter.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • age
  • basic symptoms
  • brain maturation
  • clinical high risk
  • psychosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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