Marta Di Forti

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Londinium, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (121)811.73 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Background: Many studies have reported that cannabis use increases the risk of a first episode of psychosis (FEP). However, only a few studies have investigated the nature of cannabis-related experiences in FEP patients, and none has examined whether these experiences are similar in FEP and general populations. The aim of this study was to explore differences in self-reported cannabis experiences between FEP and non-psychotic populations. Method: A total of 252 subjects, who met International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-10 criteria for FEP, and 217 controls who reported cannabis use were selected from the Genetics and Psychosis (GAP) study. The Medical Research Council Social Schedule and the Cannabis Experience Questionnaire were used to collect sociodemographic data and cannabis use information, respectively. Results: Both 'bad' and 'enjoyable' experiences were more commonly reported by FEP subjects than controls. Principal components factor analysis identified four components which explained 62.3% of the variance. Linear regression analysis on the whole sample showed that the type of cannabis used and beliefs about the effect of cannabis on health all contributed to determining the intensity and frequency of experiences. Linear regression analysis on FEP subjects showed that the duration of cannabis use and amount of money spent on cannabis were strongly related to the intensity and frequency of enjoyable experiences in this population. Conclusions: These results suggest a higher sensitivity to cannabis effects among people who have suffered their first psychotic episode; this hypersensitivity results in them reporting both more 'bad' and 'enjoyable' experiences. The greater enjoyment experienced may provide an explanation of why FEP patients are more likely to use cannabis and to continue to use it despite experiencing an exacerbation of their psychotic symptoms.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Psychological Medicine
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    ABSTRACT: We sought to test the hypothesis that the rs1344706 A allele will be associated with worse clinical outcome in first-episode psychosis. A data linkage was set up between a large systematic study of first-episode psychosis and an electronic health-record case register at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust—a large provider of secondary mental-health care. A sample of 291 patients, who presented with a first psychotic episode (ICD10 diagnoses F20–29 or F30–33) and in whom the rs1344706 genotype had been assayed, were followed to examine the duration of mental-health in-patient care during the 2 years following first service contact, as a primary outcome. Secondary outcome measures were whether or not an in-patient episode occurred and the number of in-patient episodes during this period. A strong association was found between the number of rs1344706 A alleles and the cumulative duration of mental-health in-patient stay over the 2 years since initial presentation. In the 84.2% who experienced an in-patient episode during this period, the mean duration of admission was an additional 38 days for each A allele increment. Therefore, in addition to its potential role as a risk factor for psychosis, the ZNF804A rs1344706 A allele is associated with worse clinical outcome.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Translational Psychiatry
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    ABSTRACT: Both substance use and poor medication adherence are associated with poor outcome in psychosis. To clarify the contributions of substance use and poor medication adherence to poor outcome in the year following a first episode of psychosis, 205 patients were evaluated for use of tobacco, alcohol, cannabis and stimulants at their psychosis onset, and in a 1-year follow-up. Data on medication adherence and symptom remission were also collected. Patients had high rates of overall substance use before (37-65%) and after psychosis onset (45-66%). 44% showed poor medication adherence and 55% did not reach remission from psychosis. Nicotine dependence and cannabis use after psychosis onset significantly predicted both poor medication adherence and non-remission, and poor medication adherence mediated the effects of these substances on non-remission. In conclusion, medication adherence lies on the causal pathway between nicotine dependence and cannabis on the one hand and non-remission on the other.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Schizophrenia Research
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    ABSTRACT: Background: The use of cannabis with higher ��9-tetrahydrocannabinol content has been associated with greater risk, and earlier onset, of psychosis. However, the effect of cannabis potency on brain morphology has never been explored. Here, we investigated whether cannabis potency and pattern of use are associated with changes in corpus callosum (CC) microstructural organization, in patients with first-episode psychosis (FEP) and individuals without psychosis, cannabis users and non-users. Method The CC of 56 FEP (37 cannabis users) and 43 individuals without psychosis (22 cannabis users) was virtually dissected and segmented using diffusion tensor imaging tractography. The diffusion index of fractional anisotropy, mean diffusivity (MD), axial diffusivity (AD) and radial diffusivity was calculated for each segment. Results: Across the whole sample, users of high-potency cannabis had higher total CC MD and higher total CC AD than both low-potency users and those who never used (p = 0.005 and p = 0.004, respectively). Daily users also had higher total CC MD and higher total CC AD than both occasional users and those who never used (p = 0.001 and p < 0.001, respectively). However, there was no effect of group (patient/individuals without psychosis) or group x potency interaction for either potency or frequency of use. The within-group analysis showed in fact that the effects of potency and frequency were similar in FEP users and in users without psychosis. Conclusions: Frequent use of high-potency cannabis is associated with disturbed callosal microstructural organization in individuals with and without psychosis. Since high-potency preparations are now replacing traditional herbal drugs in many European countries, raising awareness about the risks of high-potency cannabis is crucial.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Psychological Medicine
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    Matthew Large · Marta Di Forti · Robin Murray

    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Nature
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    ABSTRACT: Aim: Several studies have suggested that lifetime cannabis consumption and childhood abuse synergistically contribute to the risk for psychotic disorders. This study aimed to extend existing findings regarding an additive interaction between childhood abuse and lifetime cannabis use by investigating the moderating role of type and frequency of cannabis use. Methods: Up to 231 individuals presenting for the first time to mental health services with psychotic disorders and 214 unaffected population controls from South London, United Kingdom, were recruited as part of the Genetics and Psychosis study. Information about history of cannabis use was collected using the Cannabis Experiences Questionnaire. Childhood physical and sexual abuse was assessed using the Childhood Experience of Care and Abuse Questionnaire. Results: Neither lifetime cannabis use nor reported exposure to childhood abuse was associated with psychotic disorder when the other environmental variable was taken into account. Although the combination of the two risk factors raised the odds for psychosis by nearly three times (adjusted OR = 2.94, 95% CI: 1.44-6.02, P = 0.003), no evidence of interaction was found (adjusted OR = 1.46, 95% CI: -0.54 to 3.46, P = 0.152). Furthermore, the association of high-potency cannabis and daily consumption with psychosis was at least partially independent of the effect of childhood abuse. Conclusions: The heavy use of high-potency cannabis increases the risk of psychosis but, in addition, smoking of traditional resin (hash) and less than daily cannabis use may increase the risk for psychosis when combined with exposure to severe childhood abuse.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2015 · Early Intervention in Psychiatry
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    ABSTRACT: Background: The relationship between childhood adversity (CA) and psychotic disorder is well documented. As the adequacy of the current categorical diagnosis of psychosis is being increasingly questioned, we explored independent associations between different types of CA and specific psychotic symptom dimensions in a well-characterized sample of first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients. Method: This study involved 236 FEP cases aged 18-65 years who presented for the first time to psychiatric services in South London, UK. Psychopathology was assessed with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale and confirmatory factor analysis was used to evaluate the statistical fit of the Wallwork/Fortgang five-factor model of psychosis. CA prior to 17 years of age (physical abuse, sexual abuse, parental separation, parental death, and being taken into care) was retrospectively assessed using the Childhood Experience of Care and Abuse Questionnaire. Results: Childhood sexual abuse [β = 0.96, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.40-1.52], childhood physical abuse (β = 0.48, 95% CI 0.03-0.93) and parental separation (β = 0.60, 95% CI 0.10-1.11) showed significant associations with the positive dimension; while being taken into care was associated with the excited dimension (β = 0.36, 95% CI 0.08-0.65), independent of the other types of CA. No significant associations were found between parental death and any of the symptom dimensions. Conclusions: A degree of specificity was found in the relationships between different types of CA and psychosis symptom dimensions in adulthood, suggesting that distinct pathways may be involved in the CA-psychosis association. These potentially different routes to developing psychosis merit further empirical and theoretical exploration.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Psychological Medicine
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    ABSTRACT: While the role of childhood adversity in increasing the risk of psychosis has been extensively investigated, it is not clear what the impact of early adverse experiences is on the outcomes of psychotic disorders. Therefore, we investigated associations between childhood adversity and 1-year outcomes in 285 first-presentation psychosis patients. Exposure to childhood adversity prior to 17 years of age was assessed using the Childhood Experience of Care and Abuse Questionnaire. Data on illness course, symptom remission, length of psychiatric hospitalization, compliance with medication, employment, and relationship status were extracted from clinical records for the year following first contact with mental health services for psychosis. Seventy-one percent of patients reported exposure to at least 1 type of childhood adversity (physical abuse, sexual abuse, parental separation, parental death, disrupted family arrangements, or being taken into care). No robust associations were found between childhood adversity and illness course or remission. However, childhood physical abuse was associated with almost 3-fold increased odds of not being in a relationship at 1-year follow-up compared to patients who did not report such adverse experiences. There was also evidence of a significant association between parental separation in childhood and longer admissions to psychiatric wards during 1-year follow-up and 2-fold increased odds of noncompliance with medication compared to those not separated from their parents. Therefore, our findings suggest that there may be some specificity in the impact of childhood adversity on service use and social functioning among psychosis patients over the first year following presentation to mental health services.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Schizophrenia Bulletin
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    ABSTRACT: Genetic factors may explain the differences in individual sensitivity to the psychosis-inducing effects of cannabis.1,2 In view of the converging data from candidate gene and genome-wide association studies that the D2-AKT1 signaling pathway is relevant for the pathophysiology and outcome of schizophrenia,3 and on the basis of previous association between cannabis-related psychosis and both DRD2 (rs1076560)1 and AKT1 (rs2494732),2 we hypothesized that these polymorphisms interact in increasing the risk of psychosis in cannabis users. We expected the genetic pathway × cannabis use interaction model to better predict the individual’s odds of psychotic disorder than the single candidate gene×cannabis use interaction model.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · Nature

  • No preview · Article · Jun 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Background The association between childhood adversity and psychosis in adulthood is well established. However, genetic factors might confound or moderate this association. Aims Using a catchment-based case–control sample, we explored the main effects of, and interplay between, childhood adversity and family psychiatric history on the onset of psychosis. Method Childhood adversity (parental separation and death, physical and sexual abuse) was assessed retrospectively in 224 individuals with a first presentation of psychosis and 256 community controls from South London, UK. Occurrence of psychotic and affective disorders in first-degree relatives was ascertained with the Family Interview for Genetic Studies (FIGS). Results Parental history of psychosis did not confound the association between childhood adversity and psychotic disorder. There was no evidence that childhood adversity and familial liability combined synergistically to increase odds of psychosis beyond the effect of each individually. Conclusions Our results do not support the hypothesis that family psychiatric history amplifies the effect of childhood adversity on odds of psychosis
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2015
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    Full-text · Article · May 2015 · The Lancet Psychiatry
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    ABSTRACT: Cognitive biases may contribute to delusion persistence. We tested this in a longitudinal study of first episode psychosis (FEP). 34 FEP patients completed assessments of delusions and Jumping to Conclusions (JTC) at baseline and 12-month follow-up. JTC was associated with baseline delusion severity (t(32)=2.7, p=0.01). Baseline delusions persisted at follow-up for 8/20 participants (40%), who all jumped to conclusions (8/8, 100%), compared to half of those with no or changeable delusions (14/26, 54%; χ(2) (df=1)=5.7, p=0.03; Phi=0.4). Findings implicate cognitive biases in delusion persistence, and support the potential to reduce delusions through reasoning-focused interventions. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · May 2015 · Schizophrenia Research
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    ABSTRACT: Both cannabis use and the dopamine receptor (DRD2) gene have been associated with schizophrenia, psychosis-like experiences, and cognition. However, there are no published data investigating whether genetically determined variation in DRD2 dopaminergic signaling might play a role in individual susceptibility to cannabis-associated psychosis. We genotyped (1) a case-control study of 272 patients with their first episode of psychosis and 234 controls, and also from (2) a sample of 252 healthy subjects, for functional variation in DRD2, rs1076560. Data on history of cannabis use were collected on all the studied subjects by administering the Cannabis Experience Questionnaire. In the healthy subjects' sample, we also collected data on schizotypy and cognitive performance using the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire and the N-back working memory task. In the case-control study, we found a significant interaction between the rs1076560 DRD2 genotype and cannabis use in influencing the likelihood of a psychotic disorder. Among cannabis users, carriers of the DRD2, rs1076560, T allele showed a 3-fold increased probability to suffer a psychotic disorder compared with GG carriers (OR = 3.07; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.22-7.63). Among daily users, T carrying subjects showed a 5-fold increase in the odds of psychosis compared to GG carriers (OR = 4.82; 95% CI: 1.39-16.71). Among the healthy subjects, T carrying cannabis users had increased schizotypy compared with T carrying cannabis-naïve subjects, GG cannabis users, and GG cannabis-naïve subjects (all P ≤ .025). T carrying cannabis users had reduced working memory accuracy compared with the other groups (all P ≤ .008). Thus, variation of the DRD2, rs1076560, genotype may modulate the psychosis-inducing effect of cannabis use. © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · Schizophrenia Bulletin
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    ABSTRACT: Cortisol and inflammatory markers have been increasingly reported as abnormal at psychosis onset. The main aim of our study was to investigate the ability of these biomarkers to predict treatment response at 12 weeks follow-up in first episode psychosis. In a longitudinal study, we collected saliva and blood samples in 68 first episode psychosis patients (and 57 controls) at baseline and assessed response to clinician-led antipsychotic treatment after 12 weeks. Moreover, we repeated biological measurements in 39 patients at the same time we assessed the response. Saliva samples were collected at multiple time points during the day to measure diurnal cortisol levels and cortisol awakening response (CAR); interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, tumor necrosis factor-α, and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) levels were analyzed from serum samples. Patients were divided into Non-Responders (n = 38) and Responders (n = 30) according to the Remission symptom criteria of the Schizophrenia Working Group Consensus. At first onset, Non-Responders had markedly lower CAR (d = 0.6, P = .03) and higher IL-6 and IFN-γ levels (respectively, d = 1.0, P = .003 and d = 0.9, P = .02) when compared with Responders. After 12 weeks, Non-Responders show persistent lower CAR (P = .01), and higher IL-6 (P = .04) and IFN-γ (P = .05) when compared with Responders. Comparison with controls show that these abnormalities are present in both patients groups, but are more evident in Non-Responders. Cortisol and inflammatory biomarkers at the onset of psychosis should be considered as possible predictors of treatment response, as well as potential targets for the development of novel therapeutic agents. © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · Schizophrenia Bulletin
  • I. Tarricone · J. Boydell · C. Morgan · M. Robin · M. Di Forti · D. Berardi

    No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · European Psychiatry

  • No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · European Psychiatry
  • S. Stilo · M. Di Forti · R. Murray · C. Morgan

    No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · European Psychiatry
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    ABSTRACT: Background The risk of individuals having adverse effects from drug use (eg, alcohol) generally depends on the frequency of use and potency of the drug used. We aimed to investigate how frequent use of skunk-like (high-potency) cannabis in south London affected the association between cannabis and psychotic disorders. Methods We applied adjusted logistic regression models to data from patients aged 18–65 years presenting to South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust with first-episode psychosis and population controls recruited from the same area of south London (UK) to estimate the effect of the frequency of use, and type of cannabis used on the risk of psychotic disorders. We then calculated the proportion of new cases of psychosis attributable to different types of cannabis use in south London. Findings Between May 1, 2005, and May 31, 2011, we obtained data from 410 patients with first-episode psychosis and 370 population controls. The risk of individuals having a psychotic disorder showed a roughly three-times increase in users of skunk-like cannabis compared with those who never used cannabis (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 2·92, 95% CI 1·52–3·45, p=0·001). Use of skunk-like cannabis every day conferred the highest risk of psychotic disorders compared with no use of cannabis (adjusted OR 5·4, 95% CI 2·81–11·31, p=0·002). The population attributable fraction of firstepisode psychosis for skunk use for our geographical area was 24% (95% CI 17–31), possibly because of the high prevalence of use of high-potency cannabis (218 [53%] of 410 patients) in our study. Interpretation The ready availability of high potency cannabis in south London might have resulted in a greater proportion of first onset psychosis cases being attributed to cannabis use than in previous studies. Funding UK National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Specialist Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health, SLaM and the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, Psychiatry Research Trust, Maudsley Charity Research Fund, and th European Community’s Seventh Framework Program grant (agreement No. HEALTH-F2-2009-241909 [Project EU-GEI]).
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · The Lancet
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    ABSTRACT: Background The risk of individuals having adverse effects from drug use (eg, alcohol) generally depends on the frequency of use and potency of the drug used. We aimed to investigate how frequent use of skunk-like (high-potency) cannabis in south London affected the association between cannabis and psychotic disorders. Methods We applied adjusted logistic regression models to data from patients aged 18-65 years presenting to South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust with first-episode psychosis and population controls recruited from the same area of south London (UK) to estimate the effect of the frequency of use, and type of cannabis used on the risk of psychotic disorders. We then calculated the proportion of new cases of psychosis attributable to different types of cannabis use in south London. Findings Between May 1, 2005, and May 31, 2011, we obtained data from 410 patients with first-episode psychosis and 370 population controls. The risk of individuals having a psychotic disorder showed a roughly three-times increase in users of skunk-like cannabis compared with those who never used cannabis (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 2.92, 95% CI 1.52-3.45, p=0.001). Use of skunk-like cannabis every day conferred the highest risk of psychotic disorders compared with no use of cannabis (adjusted OR 5.4, 95% CI 2.81-11.31, p=0.002). The population attributable fraction of first-episode psychosis for skunk use for our geographical area was 24% (95% CI 17-31), possibly because of the high prevalence of use of high-potency cannabis (218 [53%] of 410 patients) in our study. Interpretation The ready availability of high potency cannabis in south London might have resulted in a greater proportion of first onset psychosis cases being attributed to cannabis use than in previous studies. Copyright (C) Di Forti et al. Open Access article distributed under the terms of CC BY.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · The Lancet

Publication Stats

3k Citations
811.73 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2015
    • South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 2012-2015
    • The Kings College
      Brooklyn, New York, United States
  • 2010-2015
    • ICL
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 2007-2015
    • King's College London
      • • Department of Psychosis Studies
      • • Institute of Psychiatry
      • • Department of Psychological Medicine
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
    • London Research Institute
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 2008
    • University of Nottingham
      Nottigham, England, United Kingdom
    • NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research
      Oxford, England, United Kingdom