Cognitive outcomes in early-treated adults with phenylketonuria (PKU): A comprehensive picture across domains.
ABSTRACT: Phenylketonuria (PKU) is an inherited metabolic disease which affects cognitive functions due to an inability to metabolize phenylalanine which leads to the accumulation of toxic by-products (Phe) in the brain. PKU can be effectively treated with a low phenylalanine diet, but some cognitive deficits remain. Studies have reported impairments, especially for processing speed and executive functions, but there is a lack of comprehensive assessment across cognitive domains. Moreover, it is important to establish outcomes in early treated adults with PKU (AwPKU) who have better metabolic control than groups previously reported in the literature.We tested 37 AwPKU with an unprecedented number of tasks (N = 28) and measures (N = 44) and compared results with 30 controls matched for age and education.We found (a) group impairments, particularly in tasks tapping speed of processing and complex executive functions; (b) high variability across participants, with a sizable number of AwPKU with completely normal performance (about 38%); (c) but also a sizable number of participants who were clearly impaired (about 24%); and (d) good performance in tasks tapping verbal learning, verbal memory and orthographic processing, indicating no generalized learning impairment.Our results indicate good outcomes, but also that deficits are still present with current treatment policies. (PsycINFO Database Record
Project description:Phenylketonuria (PKU) is a hereditary disorder characterized by disrupted phenylalanine metabolism and cognitive impairment. However, the precise nature and developmental trajectory of this cognitive impairment remains unclear. The present study used a verbal fluency task to dissociate executive and verbal processes in children with PKU (n = 23; 7-18 years) and controls (n = 44; 7-19 years). Data were collected at three longitudinal timepoints over a three-year period, and the contributions of age, group, and their interaction to fluency performance were evaluated. Results indicated impairments in executive processes in children with PKU, which were exacerbated by declining metabolic control.
Project description:Diet therapy for phenylketonuria (PKU) requires restricted phenylalanine (Phe) intake, with the majority of protein and other nutrients coming from synthetic medical food. The fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is important in brain development and function; however, there are reports of low blood DHA concentrations in people treated for PKU. Although the implications of this low blood DHA are unclear, subtle cognitive deficits have been reported in those treated early and continuously for PKU. For this study, we investigated the relationship between DHA status and cognitive performance in 41 females 12 years and older with PKU. Participants were attending the baseline visit of a research-based camp or a supplementation trial. We assessed the domains of verbal ability, processing speed, and executive function using standardized tests, and the proportions of DHA in plasma and red blood cell (RBC) total lipids using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Percent plasma and RBC total lipid DHA were significantly lower in the participants compared with laboratory controls (P < .001), and participants consumed no appreciable DHA according to diet records. Plasma and RBC DHA both negatively correlated with plasma Phe (P < .02), and performance on the verbal ability task positively correlated with RBC DHA controlling for plasma Phe (R =?.32, P =?.03). The relationship between DHA and domains related to verbal ability, such as learning and memory, should be confirmed in a controlled trial. Domains of processing speed and executive function may require a larger sample size to clarify any association with DHA.
Project description:We tested the hypothesis that brain white matter integrity mediates the relationship between phenylalanine (Phe) control and executive abilities in children with phenylketonuria (PKU; N = 36). To do so, we examined mean diffusivity (MD) from diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in two white matter brain regions (posterior parietal-occipital, PPO; centrum semiovale, CSO) and lifetime phenylalanine (Phe) exposure; the executive abilities examined included verbal strategic processing, nonverbal strategic processing, and working memory. Mediation modeling showed that MD in the PPO and CSO mediated the relationship between Phe exposure and nonverbal strategic processing, MD in the CSO mediated the relationship between Phe exposure and verbal strategic processing, and MD in the PPO mediated the relationship between Phe exposure and working memory. These exploratory findings demonstrate the importance of using sophisticated modeling procedures to understand the interplay among metabolic control, neural factors, and functional outcomes in individuals with PKU.
Project description:Cognitive and mental health problems in individuals with the inherited metabolic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU) have often been associated with metabolic control and its history. For the present study executive functioning (EF) was assessed in 21 PKU patients during childhood (T1, mean age 10.4 years, SD?=?2.0) and again in adulthood (T2, mean age 25.8 years, SD?=?2.3). At T2 additional assessments of EF in daily life and mental health were performed. Childhood (i.e. 0-12 years) blood phenylalanine was significantly related to cognitive flexibility, executive motor control, EF in daily life and mental health in adulthood (i.e. at T2). Patients with a greater increase in phenylalanine levels after the age of 12 performed more poorly on EF-tasks at T2. Group-based analyses showed that patients with phenylalanine <360 µmol/L in childhood and phenylalanine ?360 µmol/L from age 13 onwards (n?=?11) had better cognitive flexibility and executive motor control than those who had phenylalanine ?360 µmol/L throughout life (n?=?7), supporting the notion that phenylalanine should be below the recommended upper treatment target of 360 µmol/L during childhood for better outcome in adulthood. Despite some results indicating additional influence of phenylalanine levels between 13 and 17 years of age, evidence for a continued influence of phenylalanine levels after childhood on adult outcomes was largely lacking. This may be explained by the fact that the patients in the present study had relatively low phenylalanine levels during childhood (mean: 330 µmol/L, range: 219-581 µmol/L) and thereafter (mean Index of Dietary Control at T2: 464 µmol/L, range: 276-743 µmol/L), which may have buffered against transitory periods of poor metabolic control during adolescence and early adulthood.
Project description:Developmental dyslexia is a reading disorder characterized by problems in accurate or fluent reading. A deficiency in phonological processing is thought to underpin the reading difficulties of individuals with developmental dyslexia and a variety of explanations have been proposed including deficits in phonological awareness and verbal memory. Recent investigations have begun to suggest that developmental deficits in the acquisition of reading may also co-occur with visual processing deficits, which are particularly salient for visually complex stimuli, yet these deficits have received relatively little attention from researchers. To further explore the nature of phonological and visual processing in developmental dyslexia, we administered a series of non-reading tasks tapping both domains. Unsurprisingly, individuals with developmental dyslexia performed worse than typically developing readers in phonological tasks. More intriguingly, they also struggled with visual tasks, specifically when discriminating between novel visual patterns, and in visuo-spatial working memory, which requires greater attentional control. These findings highlight that individuals with developmental dyslexia present not only with phonological impairments but also difficulties in processing visual materials. This aspect has received limited attention in previous literature and represents an aspect of novelty of this study. The dual phonological and visual impairments suggest that developmental dyslexia is a complex disorder characterized by deficits in different cognitive mechanisms that underpin reading.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Cognitive impairment is a core feature of psychotic disorders, but the profile of impairment across adulthood, particularly in African-American populations, remains unclear. METHODS:Using cross-sectional data from a case-control study of African-American adults with affective (n = 59) and nonaffective (n = 68) psychotic disorders, we examined cognitive functioning between early and middle adulthood (ages 20-60) on measures of general cognitive ability, language, abstract reasoning, processing speed, executive function, verbal memory, and working memory. RESULTS:Both affective and nonaffective psychosis patients showed substantial and widespread cognitive impairments. However, comparison of cognitive functioning between controls and psychosis groups throughout early (ages 20-40) and middle (ages 40-60) adulthood also revealed age-associated group differences. During early adulthood, the nonaffective psychosis group showed increasing impairments with age on measures of general cognitive ability and executive function, while the affective psychosis group showed increasing impairment on a measure of language ability. Impairments on other cognitive measures remained mostly stable, although decreasing impairments on measures of processing speed, memory and working memory were also observed. CONCLUSIONS:These findings suggest similarities, but also differences in the profile of cognitive dysfunction in adults with affective and nonaffective psychotic disorders. Both affective and nonaffective patients showed substantial and relatively stable impairments across adulthood. The nonaffective group also showed increasing impairments with age in general and executive functions, and the affective group showed an increasing impairment in verbal functions, possibly suggesting different underlying etiopathogenic mechanisms.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Even though early dietary management of phenylketonuria (PKU) successfully prevents severe neurological impairments, deficits in cognitive functioning are still observed. These deficits are believed to be the result of elevated levels of phenylalanine throughout life. Research on cognitive functioning in adults with PKU (AwPKU) often focuses on domains shown to be compromised in children with PKU, such as attention and executive functions, whereas other cognitive domains have received less attention. This systematic review aimed to provide an overview of cognitive functioning across domains examined in early treated (ET) AwPKU. METHODS:A systematic search was performed in Ovid MEDLINE(R), PsycINFO, Web of Science, Cochrane, Scopus, Embase, ScienceDirect, and PubMed for observational studies on cognitive performance in ET AwPKU. RESULTS:Twenty-two peer-reviewed publications, reporting on outcomes from 16 studies were reviewed. Collectively, the results most consistently showed deficits in vigilance, working memory and motor skills. Deficits in other cognitive domains were less consistently observed or were understudied. Furthermore, despite reports of several associations between cognitive performance and phenylalanine (Phe) levels throughout life the relationship remains unclear. Inconsistencies in findings across studies could be explained by the highly heterogeneous nature of study samples, resulting in large inter- and intra-variability in Phe levels, as well as the use of a variety of tests across cognitive domains, which differ in sensitivity. The long-term cognitive outcomes of early and continuous management of PKU remain unclear. CONCLUSIONS:To better understand the development of cognitive deficits in ET AwPKU, future research would benefit from 1) (inter)national multicentre-studies; 2) more homogeneous study samples; 3) the inclusion of other nutritional measures that might influence cognitive functioning (e.g. Phe fluctuations, Phe:Tyrosine ratio and micronutrients such as vitamin B12); and 4) careful selection of appropriate cognitive tests.
Project description:The main objective of this prospective longitudinal study was to investigate bidirectional associations between adolescent cannabis use (CU) and neurocognitive performance in a community sample of 294 young men from ages 13 to 20 years. The results showed that in early adolescence, and prior to initiation to CU, poor short-term and working memory, but high verbal IQ, were associated with earlier age of onset of CU. In turn, age of CU onset and CU frequency across adolescence were associated with (a) specific neurocognitive decline in verbal IQ and executive function tasks tapping trial and error learning and reward processing by early adulthood and (b) lower rates of high-school graduation. The association between CU onset and change in neurocognitive function, however, was found to be accounted for by CU frequency. Whereas the link between CU frequency across adolescence and change in verbal IQ was explained (mediated) by high school graduation, the link between CU frequency and tasks tapping trial and error learning were independent from high school graduation, concurrent cannabis and other substance use, adolescent alcohol use, and externalizing behaviors. Findings support prevention efforts aimed at delaying onset and reducing frequency of CU.
Project description:Low blood docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is reported in patients with phenylketonuria (PKU); however, the functional implications in adolescents and adults are unknown. This pilot study investigated the effect of supplemental DHA on cognitive performance in 33 females with PKU ages 12-47 years. Participants were randomly assigned to receive DHA (10mg/kg/day) or placebo for 4.5 months. Performance on cognitive processing speed and executive functioning tasks was evaluated at baseline and follow up. Intention-to-treat and per protocol analyses were performed. At follow up, biomarkers of DHA status were significantly higher in the DHA-supplemented group. Performance on the cognitive tasks and reported treatment-related adverse events did not differ. While no evidence of cognitive effect was seen, a larger sample size is needed to be conclusive, which may not be feasible in this population. Supplementation was a safe and effective way to increase biomarkers of DHA status (www.clinicaltrials.gov; Identifier: NCT00892554).
Project description:Introduction. Cognitive deficits are commonly reported by patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). Duloxetine, a dual serotonin/noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor, may improve cognitive deficits in MDD. It is unclear if cognitive improvements occur independently of antidepressant effects with standard antidepressant medications. Methods. Thirty participants with MDD who endorsed cognitive deficits at screening received 12-week duloxetine treatment. Twenty-one participants completed treatment and baseline and posttreatment cognitive testing. The Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery was used to assess the following cognitive domains: attention, visual memory, executive function/set shifting and working memory, executive function/spatial planning, decision making and response control, and verbal learning and memory. Results. Completers showed significant cognitive improvements across several domains on tasks assessing psychomotor function and mental processing speed, with additional improvements in visual and verbal learning and memory, and affective decision making and response control. Overall significance tests for executive function tasks were also significant, although individual tasks were not, perhaps due to the small sample size. Most notably, cognitive improvements were observed independently of symptom reduction on all domains except verbal learning and memory. Conclusions. Patients reporting baseline cognitive deficits achieved cognitive improvements with duloxetine treatment, most of which were independent of symptomatic improvement. This trial is registered with NCT00933439.