Clinical Characteristics of an Afrikaner Founder Population Recruited for a Schizophrenia Genetic Study


Address for correspondence: J.L. Roos, Professor, Head of Department, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pretoria, Weskoppies Hospital, Private Bag x113, Pretoria, 0001. Voice: +27-12-3199741; fax: +27-12-3199617.


The clinical characteristics of an Afrikaner founder population sample recruited for a schizophrenia genetic study are described. Comparisons on several clinical characteristics between this sample and a U.S. sample of schizophrenia patients show that generalization of findings in a founder population to the population at large is applicable. The assessment of the frequency of the 22q11 deletion in Afrikaner schizophrenia patients is approximately 2%, similar to findings in a U.S. sample. Results of analysis of early non-psychotic deviant behavior in subjects under the age of 10 years in the Afrikaner population broadly replicated findings in a U.S. sample. Approximately half of male schizophrenia patients and a quarter of female patients in the Afrikaner schizophrenia database used or abused cannabis. Male users of cannabis with severe early deviant behavior had the lowest mean age of criteria onset, namely 18.4 years. These findings confirm previous findings, indicating that early deviance is linked to later outcome of disease. The clinical characteristics and premorbid variables in 12 childhood-onset Afrikaner schizophrenia patients thus far recruited in this study compare favorably with what is known about childhood-onset schizophrenia in a U.S. sample. The prevalence of co-morbid OCD/OCS in this Afrikaner schizophrenia founder sample was 13.2% which is in keeping with that of co-morbid OCD in schizophrenia, estimated at 12.2% by the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health. These findings confirm that the clinical characteristics of a schizophrenia sample drawn from the Afrikaner founder population can be generalized to the schizophrenia population at large when compared to findings reported in the literature.