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Original Article
January 2001

Parental Origin of the Deletion 22q11.2 and Brain Development in Velocardiofacial Syndrome: A Preliminary Study

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, Calif (Drs Eliez and Reiss); and Division of Medical Genetics, Geneva University School of Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland (Drs Antonarakis, Morris, and Dahoun).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2001;58(1):64-68. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.58.1.64

Background  As children with velocardiofacial syndrome (VCFS) develop, they are at increased risk for psychopathology; one third will eventually develop schizophrenia. Because VCFS and the concomitant symptomatology result from a known genetic origin, the biological and behavioral characteristics of the syndrome provide an optimal framework for conceptualizing the associations among genes, brain development, and behavior. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of the parental origin of the 22q11.2 microdeletion on the brain development of children and adolescents with VCFS.

Methods  Eighteen persons with VCFS and 18 normal control subjects were matched individually for age and sex. Results of DNA polymorphism analyses determined the parental origin of the deletion. Nine persons with VCFS had a deletion on the maternally derived chromosome 22; 9 persons, on the paternally derived chromosome 22. High-resolution magnetic resonance imaging scans were analyzed to provide quantitative measures of gray and white matter brain tissue.

Results  Total brain volume was approximately 11% smaller in the VCFS group than in controls. Comparisons between VCFS subgroups (maternal vs paternal microdeletion 22q11.2) indicated a significant 9% volumetric difference in total volume of cerebral gray matter (volume was greater in patients with paternal microdeletion) but not cerebral white matter. Significant age-related changes in gray matter were detected for subjects whose 22q11.2 deletion was on the maternal chromosome.

Conclusions  Children and adolescents with VCFS experience major alterations in brain volumes. Significant reduction in gray matter development is attributable to presence of 22q11.2 microdeletion on the maternal chromosome.