Longitudinal inference of multiscale markers in psychosis: from hippocampal centrality to functional outcome

Mol Psychiatry. 2024 Apr 11. doi: 10.1038/s41380-024-02549-x. Online ahead of print.


Multiscale neuroscience conceptualizes mental illness as arising from aberrant interactions across and within multiple biopsychosocial scales. We leverage this framework to propose a multiscale disease progression model of psychosis, in which hippocampal-cortical dysconnectivity precedes impairments in episodic memory and social cognition, which lead to more severe negative symptoms and lower functional outcome. As psychosis represents a heterogeneous collection of biological and behavioral alterations that evolve over time, we further predict this disease progression for a subtype of the patient sample, with other patients showing normal-range performance on all variables. We sampled data from two cross-sectional datasets of first- and multi-episode psychosis, resulting in a sample of 163 patients and 119 non-clinical controls. To address our proposed disease progression model and evaluate potential heterogeneity, we applied a machine-learning algorithm, SuStaIn, to the patient data. SuStaIn uniquely integrates clustering and disease progression modeling and identified three patient subtypes. Subtype 0 showed normal-range performance on all variables. In comparison, Subtype 1 showed lower episodic memory, social cognition, functional outcome, and higher negative symptoms, while Subtype 2 showed lower hippocampal-cortical connectivity and episodic memory. Subtype 1 deteriorated from episodic memory to social cognition, negative symptoms, functional outcome to bilateral hippocampal-cortical dysconnectivity, while Subtype 2 deteriorated from bilateral hippocampal-cortical dysconnectivity to episodic memory and social cognition, functional outcome to negative symptoms. This first application of SuStaIn in a multiscale psychiatric model provides distinct disease trajectories of hippocampal-cortical connectivity, which might underlie the heterogeneous behavioral manifestations of psychosis.