Deviant trajectories of cortical maturation in 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS): A cross-sectional and longitudinal study
22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS) is associated with an increased susceptibility to develop schizophrenia. Despite a large body of literature documenting abnormal brain structure in 22q11DS, cerebral changes associated with brain maturation in 22q11DS remained largely unexplored. To map cortical maturation from childhood to adulthood in 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, we used cerebral MRI from 59 patients with 22q11DS, aged 6 to 40, and 80 typically developing controls; three year follow-up assessments were also available for 32 patients and 31 matched controls. Cross-sectional cortical thickness trajectories during childhood and adolescence were approximated in age bins. Repeated-measures were also conducted with the longitudinal data. Within the group of patients with 22q11DS, exploratory measures of cortical thickness differences related to COMT polymorphism, IQ, and schizophrenia were also conducted. We observed deviant trajectories of cortical thickness changes with age in patients with 22q11DS. In affected preadolescents, larger prefrontal thickness was observed compared to age-matched controls. Afterward, we observed greater cortical loss in 22q11DS with a convergence of cortical thickness values by the end of adolescence. No compelling evidence for an effect of COMT polymorphism on cortical maturation was observed. Within 22q11DS, significant differences in cortical thickness were related to cognitive level in children and adolescents, and to schizophrenia in adults. Deviant trajectories of cortical thickness from childhood to adulthood provide strong in vivo cues for a defect in the programmed synaptic elimination, which in turn may explain the susceptibility of patients with 22q11DS to develop psychosis.