Electroretinography may reveal cognitive impairment among a cohort of subjects at risk of a major psychiatric disorder

Psychiatry Res. 2020 Sep:291:113227. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113227. Epub 2020 Jun 18.


Introduction: Almost a third of the offspring of parents diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder could develop a mental disorder or related symptoms. The objectives of this study were to test the existence of two distinct subgroups of youth at-risk, according to their retinal response to luminance measured with electroretinography (ERG), and to relate the resulting cluster memberships with the cognitive clusters previously reported.

Methodology: A clustering analysis was performed with ERG measurements in 107 at-risk offspring. Each subgroup was compared to a healthy control group of 203 individuals. The ERG subgroup memberships were then associated with the cognitive clusters.

Results: A two-cluster solution was obtained: HR-Cluster1 (n=53) showed a control-like ERG profile and HR-Cluster2 (n=54) showed reduced rod amplitudes and prolonged cone latencies of the b-wave. Subjects in the HR-Cluster2 were 2.7 times more likely to belong to the most detrimental cognitive subgroup than subjects in the HR-Cluster1 (49% Vs 18%).

Conclusion: At-risk offspring showed two distinct ERG profiles: a control-like and an altered profile. A higher risk of impaired cognitive function was observed in subjects with the altered ERG profile, suggesting the ERG as a potential biomarker of susceptibility to mental illness among youth at risk.

Keywords: Biomarker; Bipolar disorders; Cognition; Early detection; Electroretinography; High risk; Schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bipolar Disorder / diagnosis
  • Bipolar Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology
  • Child
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnosis
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / physiopathology*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / psychology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Electroretinography / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retina / physiopathology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • Young Adult

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