Neurological Soft Signs in Schizophrenia Patients With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Michael Poyurovsky, M.D., Sarit Faragian, M.A., Artashes Pashinian, M.D., Aya Levi, M.A., Alexander Viosburd, M.D., Raphael Stryjer, M.D., Ronit Weizman, M.D., Camil Fuchs, Ph.D. and Abraham Weizman, M.D.
Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci 19:145-150, May 2007

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a prevalent and clinically significant phenomenon in schizophrenia patients. Both schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are considered to be neurodevelopmental disorders sharing dysfunctional frontal-subcortical circuitry.

Using the Neurological Evaluation Scale (NES), the authors assessed neurological soft signs in 59 patients who met DSM-IV criteria for both schizophrenia and OCD. The two schizophrenia groups (with and without OCD) scored higher than the comparison group but did not significantly differ from one another on any of the NES subscales. The first-episode patients in both groups scored similarly to patients with repeated hospitalizations on all NES subscales. Notably, the OCD patients scored similarly to the two schizophrenia groups on the NES motor sequencing subscale.

The author's findings support the notion that neurological soft signs are independent markers of brain dysfunction detectable early in the course of schizophrenia. However, they are of limited value as a putative endophenotype in a search for specific etiological mechanisms underlying a schizo-obsessive subgroup of schizophrenia.