Verweij KH, Derks EM,
PLoS ONE 2013;8(10):e77215
BACKGROUND: The degree of intellectual impairment in schizophrenia patients and their relatives has been suggested to be associated with the degree of familial loading for schizophrenia. Since other psychiatric disorders are also more present in relatives of schizophrenia patients, the definition of family history should be broadened. The association between family history for psychiatric disorder and intelligence scores was investigated in patients with non-affective psychosis, their unaffected siblings and controls.
METHODS: A sample of 712 schizophrenia proband families (696 patients and 766 siblings) and 427 healthy control families (517 subjects) participated in this study. Family history of psychiatric disorder was determined while excluding the data of the participating schizophrenia patient. A dichotomous division was made between families with no first- or second degree relative with psychiatric disorder and families with one or more affected relatives. Total intelligence scores were estimated by admission of the short form of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale III.
RESULTS: A significant interaction was found between family history of psychiatric disorder and clinical status (F(2,1086.87)= 4.17; p=.016). Patients with a positive family history of psychiatric disorder obtained higher intelligence scores compared to patients with no family history (mean IQ scores are 95.52 and 92.72) with an opposite effect in controls (mean IQ scores are 108.71 and 111.19). No significant difference was found between siblings of schizophrenia patients with or without a positive family history (mean IQ scores are 102.98 and 103.24).
CONCLUSION: In patients with schizophrenia, a negative family history of psychiatric disorder was associated with relatively low IQ suggesting that the etiology in these patients may involve environmental or genetic factors which are unique to the patient and are not observed in other relatives. Possible factors include severe environmental stressors containing premature birth or brain injury and genetic factors (e.g de novo Copy Number Variants).