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Schizophr Bull. 2009 Mar;35(2):437-42. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbn169. Epub 2009 Mar 11.

Telomere length and pulse pressure in newly diagnosed, antipsychotic-naive patients with nonaffective psychosis.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, CB2 0QQ Cambridge, UK.



Recent studies suggest that in addition to factors such as treatment side effects, suicide, and poor health habits, people with schizophrenia may have an increased risk of diabetes prior to antipsychotic treatment. Diabetes is associated with an increased pulse pressure (PP) and a shortened telomere. We tested the hypothesis that prior to antipsychotic treatment, schizophrenia and related disorders are associated with a shortened telomere, as well as an increased PP.


Telomere content (which is highly correlated with telomere length) and PP were measured in newly diagnosed, antipsychotic-naive patients with schizophrenia and related disorders on first clinical contact and in matched control subjects. Both groups were also administered an oral glucose tolerance test.


Compared with control subjects, the patients with psychosis had decreased telomere content and an increased PP. As previously reported, they also had increased glucose concentrations at 2 hours. These differences could not be attributed to differences in age, ethnicity, smoking, gender, body mass index, neighborhood of residence, socioeconomic status, aerobic conditioning, or an increased cortisol concentration in the psychotic subjects.


These results suggest that prior to antipsychotic use, nonaffective psychosis is associated with reduced telomere content and increased PP, indices that have been linked to an increased risk of diabetes and hypertension.

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