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Psychiatry Res. 2012 Aug 30;199(1):8-11. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2012.03.010. Epub 2012 Apr 14.

Phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) perception in ultra-high risk for psychosis participants who develop schizophrenia: testing the evidence for an endophenotypic marker.

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Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.


Reports suggesting that schizophrenia participants are more likely to be phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) non-tasters when compared to controls have recently been controversial. If supported, a genetic-based phenotypic variation in PTC taster status is implicated, suggesting a greater illness risk for those participants with recessive alleles for the TAS2R38 receptor. Should PTC insensitivity be a schizophrenia endophenotype, then it would be expected in follow-up of ultra high-risk for psychosis participants who later develop schizophrenia (UHR-S). UHR-S was hypothesised to show reduced PTC sensitivity compared to those who were previously at risk, but did not transition (UHR-NP). PTC perception was assessed in 219 UHR participants at long-term follow-up, of whom 53 had transitioned to psychosis (UHR-P) during the follow-up period. Fifteen of the 219 participants were diagnosed with schizophrenia. Seventy-eight had a family history of psychotic disorder. No differences in PTC taster status were found in UHR participants based upon transition to psychosis status, schizophrenia diagnosis, or family history of schizophrenia. This report indicates that schizophrenia development among UHR participants is not associated with PTC tasting deficits and fails to support previous findings that inability to detect the bitter taste of PTC is a schizophrenia endophenotype.

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