State marker properties of niacin skin sensitivity in ultra-high risk groups for psychosis - An optical reflection spectroscopy study

Schizophr Res. 2018 Feb;192:377-384. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2017.06.007. Epub 2017 Jun 9.


Impaired niacin sensitivity (NS) is one of the most replicated findings in untreated schizophrenia, and reflects a disturbance of prostaglandin-mediated pathways in association with deregulated arachidonic acid metabolism, pro-inflammatory activation, and vasomotor function. In ultra-high risk individuals (UHR) increased NS was reported recently, pointing towards dynamic alterations of the underlying pathomechanisms in the period preceding psychosis. However, these characteristics are still unresolved in the diverse UHR groups. We tested the hypothesis that NS is attenuated in patients who have transitioned to psychosis and in the Brief Limited Intermittent Psychotic Symptoms (BLIPS, UHR-B) and/or the attenuated symptoms (UHR-A) groups, while it is unchanged or increased in the genetic risk group (UHR-G). Sensitivity to three concentrations (0.1-0.001M) of aqueous methylnicotinate was tested in 84 UHR patients, 105 first-episode psychosis patients (FEP) and 180 healthy individuals (HC), using optical reflection spectroscopy (ORS). The UHR subgroup and transition/non-transition outcomes were assessed according to PACE criteria using the CAARMS. Psychopathology was assessed using SANS, SAPS, and BPRS or SCL-90-R self-ratings. In 0.001M data, decreased NS was found in the UHR-B (n=12), UHR-A (n=45) and the transition groups (n=13), similar to the result in FEP. NS in the UHR-G (n=27) and HC groups did not differ. In the UHR-B and FEP groups, NS and positive symptom scores were inversely correlated. These state marker properties could be used to characterize the intensity of the underlying pathomechanisms during the onset of psychosis or to identify UHR individuals that might benefit from related indicated prevention strategies.

Keywords: First episode; Niacin sensitivity; Psychosis; Schizophrenia; UHR; Ultra-high risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Niacin / metabolism*
  • Niacin / pharmacology
  • Prodromal Symptoms*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychotic Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology
  • Risk
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Skin / pathology
  • Spectrum Analysis / methods*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Niacin