BACKGROUND: 22q11 Deletion Syndrome is a genetic syndrome associated with an increased risk for developing schizophrenia. Brain abnormalities have been reported in 22q11 Deletion Syndrome, but little is known about whether differences in brain structure underlie the psychotic disorders associated with this syndrome. In the current study, we used magnetic resonance imaging to characterize the structural brain abnormalities found in adults who have both 22q11 Deletion Syndrome and schizophrenia. METHODS: Magnetic resonance imaging brain scans of 14 adults (7 male, 7 female) with 22q11 Deletion Syndrome and schizophrenia and 14 age- and gender-matched healthy volunteers were analyzed to derive measures of gray matter, white matter, and cerebrospinal fluid. Differences between the two groups were tested using student t tests. RESULTS: 22q11 Deletion Syndrome and schizophrenia subjects had significantly smaller total gray matter volume (t = 2.88, p <.01) and larger lateral ventricles (t = 4.08, p <.001) than healthy controls. Gray matter deficits were most prominent in the frontal and temporal lobes. Total white matter volumes did not differ between the two groups. CONCLUSIONS: Findings from this 22q11 Deletion Syndrome and schizophrenia study are similar to those reported in other patients with schizophrenia, but only partially consistent with those reported in nonpsychotic children with 22q11 Deletion Syndrome. 22q11 Deletion Syndrome may provide a valuable genetic neurodevelopmental model for investigating the relationship between abnormalities in brain development and the expression of schizophrenia.
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