White matter microstructural abnormalities of the cingulum bundle in youths with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome: associations with medication, neuropsychological function, and prodromal symptoms of psychosis

Kates WR, Olszewski AK, Gnirke MH, Kikinis Z, Nelson J, Antshel KM, Fremont W, Radoeva PD, Middleton FA, Shenton ME, Coman IL

Schizophr. Res. 2015 Jan;161(1):76-84

PMID: 25066496


BACKGROUND: The 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS) is regarded as an etiologically homogenous model for understanding neuroanatomic disruptions associated with a high risk for schizophrenia. This study utilized diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to analyze white matter microstructure in individuals with 22q11.2DS. We focused on the cingulum bundle (CB), previously shown to be disrupted in patients with schizophrenia and associated with symptoms of psychosis.

METHODS: White matter microstructure was assessed in the anterior, superior, and posterior CB using the tractography algorithm in DTIStudio. Neuropsychological function, presence of prodromal symptoms of psychosis, and medication history were assessed in all participants.

RESULTS: Relative to controls, young adults with 22q11.2DS showed alterations in most DTI metrics of the CB. Alterations were associated with positive prodromal symptoms of psychosis. However, when individuals with 22q11.2DS were divided by usage of antipsychotics/mood stabilizers, the medicated and non-medicated groups differed significantly in axial diffusivity of the anterior CB and in fractional anisotropy of the superior CB. DTI metrics did not differ between the medicated group and the control group.

CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that the microstructure of the CB is altered in individuals with 22q11.2DS, and that those alterations may underlie positive prodromal symptoms of psychosis. Our findings further provide preliminary evidence that antipsychotic/mood stabilizer usage may have a reparative effect on white matter microstructure in prodromal 22q11.2DS, independent of the potential effects of psychosis. Future studies of white matter pathology in individuals with 22q11.2DS should test for potential effects of medication on white matter microstructure.