A multilevel analysis of cognitive dysfunction and psychopathology associated with chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome in children.
ABSTRACT We present a multilevel approach to developing potential explanations of cognitive impairments and psychopathologies common to individuals with chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. Results presented support our hypothesis of posterior parietal dysfunction as a central determinant of characteristic visuospatial and numerical cognitive impairments. Converging data suggest that brain development anomalies, primarily tissue reductions in the posterior brain and changes to the corpus callosum, may affect parietal connectivity. Further findings indicate that dysfunction in "frontal" attention systems may explain some executive cognition impairments observed in affected children, and that there may be links between these domains of cognitive function and some of the serious psychiatric conditions, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism, and schizophrenia, that have elevated incidence rates in the syndrome. Linking the neural structure and the cognitive processing levels in this way enabled us to develop an elaborate structure/function mapping hypothesis for the impairments that are observed. We show also, that in the case of the catechol-O-methyltransferase gene, a fairly direct relationship between gene expression, cognitive function, and psychopathology exists in the affected population. Beyond that, we introduce the idea that variation in other genes may further explain the phenotypic variation in cognitive function and possibly the anomalies in brain development.
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ABSTRACT: Chromosome 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome (22q11.2DS) is caused by the most common human microdeletion, and it is associated with cognitive impairments across many domains. While impairments in cognitive control have been described in children with 22q11.2DS, the nature and development of these impairments are not clear. Children with 22q11.2DS and typically developing children (TD) were tested on four well-validated tasks aimed at measuring specific foundational components of cognitive control: response inhibition, cognitive flexibility, and working memory. Molecular assays were also conducted in order to examine genotype of catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), a gene located within the deleted region in 22q11.2DS and hypothesized to play a role in cognitive control. Mixed model regression analyses were used to examine group differences, as well as age-related effects on cognitive control component processes in a cross-sectional analysis. Regression models with COMT genotype were also conducted in order to examine potential effects of the different variants of the gene. Response inhibition, cognitive flexibility, and working memory were impaired in children with 22q11.2DS relative to TD children, even after accounting for global intellectual functioning (as measured by full-scale IQ). When compared with TD individuals, children with 22q11.2DS demonstrated atypical age-related patterns of response inhibition and cognitive flexibility. Both groups demonstrated typical age-related associations with working memory. The results of this cross-sectional analysis suggest a specific aberration in the development of systems mediating response inhibition in a sub-set of children with 22q11.2DS. It will be important to follow up with longitudinal analyses to directly examine these developmental trajectories, and correlate neurocognitive variables with clinical and adaptive outcome measures.Frontiers in Psychology 06/2014; 5:566. · 2.80 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS) carries the highest genetic risk factor for the development of schizophrenia. We investigated the association of genetic variants in two schizophrenia candidate genes with executive function (EF) and IQ in 22q11.2DS individuals. Ninety two individuals with 22q11.2 deletion were studied for the genetic association between COMT and PRODH variants and EF and IQ. Subjects were divided into children (under 12 years old), adolescents (between 12 and 18 years old) and adults (older than 18 years), and genotyped for the COMT Val158Met (rs4680) and PRODH Arg185Trp (rs4819756) polymorphisms. The participants underwent psychiatric evaluation and EF assessment. Our main finding is a significant influence of the COMT Val158Met polymorphism on both IQ and EF performance. Specifically, 22q11.2DS subjects with Met allele displayed higher IQ scores in all age groups compared to Val carriers, reaching significance in both adolescents and adults. The Met allele carriers performed better than Val carriers in EF tasks, being statistically significant in the adult group. PRODH Arg185Trp variant did not affect IQ or EF in our 22q11.2DS cohort. In conclusion, functional COMT variant, but not PRODH, affects IQ and EF in 22q11.2DS subjects during neurodevelopment with a maximal effect at adulthood. Future studies should monitor the cognitive performance of the same individuals from childhood to old age.Journal of Psychiatric Research 05/2014; · 4.09 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Background Through the increased availability and sophistication of genetic testing, it is now possible to identify causal diagnoses in a growing proportion of children with neurodevelopmental disorders. In addition to developmental delay and intellectual disability, many genetic disorders are associated with high risks of psychopathology, which curtail the wellbeing of affected individuals and their families. Beyond the identification of significant clinical needs, understanding the diverse pathways from rare genetic mutations to cognitive dysfunction and emotional–behavioural disturbance has theoretical and practical utility.Methods We overview (based on a strategic search of the literature) the state-of-the-art on causal mechanisms leading to one of the most common childhood behavioural diagnoses – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – in the context of specific genetic disorders. We focus on new insights emerging from the mapping of causal pathways from identified genetic differences to neuronal biology, brain abnormalities, cognitive processing differences and ultimately behavioural symptoms of ADHD.FindingsFirst, ADHD research in the context of rare genotypes highlights the complexity of multilevel mechanisms contributing to psychopathology risk. Second, comparisons between genetic disorders associated with similar psychopathology risks can elucidate convergent or distinct mechanisms at each level of analysis, which may inform therapeutic interventions and prognosis. Third, genetic disorders provide an unparalleled opportunity to observe dynamic developmental interactions between neurocognitive risk and behavioural symptoms. Fourth, variation in expression of psychopathology risk within each genetic disorder points to putative moderating and protective factors within the genome and the environment.ConclusionA common imperative emerging within psychopathology research is the need to investigate mechanistically how developmental trajectories converge or diverge between and within genotype-defined groups. Crucially, as genetic predispositions modify interaction dynamics from the outset, longitudinal research is required to understand the multi-level developmental processes that mediate symptom evolution.Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 12/2014; · 5.42 Impact Factor