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Late-onset schizophrenia: do recent studies support categorizing LOS as a subtype of schizophrenia?


Purpose or review

To review recent literature about late-onset schizophrenia (LOS): schizophrenia with onset between ages 40 and 60 years. New findings are presented in the context of the previous literature.

Recent findings

Newer studies continue to suggest that early-onset schizophrenia (EOS) and LOS share fundamental clinical features (i.e., positive symptoms, negative symptoms, functional deficits). One larger recent study confirmed earlier findings that LOS differs from EOS in several important ways, including predominance of women, lower severity of positive symptoms, and lower average antipsychotic dose requirement. However, this study did not find LOS patients were more likely to have the paranoid subtype or to have less severe negative symptoms compared with EOS patients. New neuroimaging and molecular studies are identifying possible differences in the underlying pathophysiology of EOS and schizophrenia developing in mid-life to late-life; however, more research is needed to confirm these findings and determine their significance. No studies evaluated treatment strategies specifically in LOS.


LOS continues to be an understudied area. Recent studies add support to the idea that LOS may be a distinct subtype of schizophrenia. Studies designed to elucidate the pathophysiology of LOS in comparison with EOS and to assess treatment strategies in this population are needed.

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