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Am J Med Genet. 2001 May 8;105(4):354-62.

Velo-cardio-facial syndrome: Implications of microdeletion 22q11 for schizophrenia and mood disorders.

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  • 1The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.


Velo-cardio-facial syndrome (VCFS) is a congenital malformation syndrome with variable phenotypic features that has been associated with chromosomal microdeletion 22q11.2. Psychiatric disorders have been reported to be highly prevalent in individuals with this syndrome, and the objective of this study was to assess the nature and extent of psychopathology among individuals with VCFS. We studied 20 children and adolescents with 22q11 deletions determined by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). Control subjects were 11 nondeleted siblings who were the closest age match to the affected subjects. Both affected and control subjects were assessed using two standardized psychiatric research instruments. The results of this study confirmed the high rate of psychiatric disorders among VCFS subjects (60% of our subjects). Of the specific types of disorders, only mood disorders were significantly more common among VCFS subjects compared to sibling controls, with eight VCFS subjects having mood disorders compared with none of the control subjects (P<0.02). Three affected subjects had schizotypal traits comorbid with a mood disorder. In addition, disruptive behavior disorders were frequently diagnosed among VCFS subjects. Using a dimensional measure of psychopathology, significant differences between VCFS subjects and sibling controls were found on three scales: ADHD (P<0.02), separation anxiety (P<0.02), and depression (P<0.01). VCFS subjects were achieving significantly less well academically and requiring significantly more special educational assistance than sibling controls. Follow-up data were available on two subjects, both of whom had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Further research on psychopathology in VCFS may provide a model of how a specific genetic defect can lead to the development of psychiatric disorders.

Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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