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Altered cortical thickness development in 22q11.2 deletion syndrome and association with psychotic symptoms

  • Bagautdinova, Joelle;
  • Zoller, Daniela;
  • Schaer, Marie;
  • Padula, Maria Carmela;
  • Mancini, Valentina;
  • Schneider, Maude; 107202;
  • Eliez, Stephan;
Publication Date
Jul 12, 2021
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Schizophrenia has been extensively associated with reduced cortical thickness (CT), and its neurodevelopmental origin is increasingly acknowledged. However, the exact timing and extent of alterations occurring in preclinical phases remain unclear. With a high prevalence of psychosis, 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS) is a neurogenetic disorder that represents a unique opportunity to examine brain maturation in high-risk individuals. In this study, we quantified trajectories of CT maturation in 22q11DS and examined the association of CT development with the emergence of psychotic symptoms. Longitudinal structural MRI data with 1-6 time points were collected from 324 participants aged 5-35 years (N = 148 22q11DS, N = 176 controls), resulting in a total of 636 scans (N = 334 22q11DS, N = 302 controls). Mixed model regression analyses were used to compare CT trajectories between participants with 22q11DS and controls. Further, CT trajectories were compared between participants with 22q11DS who developed (N = 61, 146 scans), or remained exempt of (N = 47; 98 scans) positive psychotic symptoms during development. Compared to controls, participants with 22q11DS showed widespread increased CT, focal reductions in the posterior cingulate gyrus and superior temporal gyrus (STG), and accelerated cortical thinning during adolescence, mainly in frontotemporal regions. Within 22q11DS, individuals who developed psychotic symptoms showed exacerbated cortical thinning in the right STG. Together, these findings suggest that genetic predisposition for psychosis is associated with increased CT starting from childhood and altered maturational trajectories of CT during adolescence, affecting predominantly frontotemporal regions. In addition, accelerated thinning in the STG may represent an early biomarker associated with the emergence of psychotic symptoms. / status: published

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