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Mental Health - Pathology - Radiology and Medical Imaging

Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy in 22q11 Deletion Syndrome
Published: Thursday, June 30, 2011
Author: Fabiana da Silva Alves et al.

by Fabiana da Silva Alves, Erik Boot, Nicole Schmitz, Aart Nederveen, Jacob Vorstman, Christina Lavini, Petra Pouwels, Lieuwe de Haan, Don Linszen, Therese van Amelsvoort


People with velo-cardio-facial syndrome or 22q11 deletion syndrome (22q11DS) have behavioral, cognitive and psychiatric problems. Approximately 30% of affected individuals develop schizophrenia-like psychosis. Glutamate dysfunction is thought to play a crucial role in schizophrenia. However, it is unknown if and how the glutamate system is altered in 22q11DS. People with 22q11DS are vulnerable for haploinsufficiency of PRODH, a gene that codes for an enzyme converting proline into glutamate. Therefore, it can be hypothesized that glutamatergic abnormalities may be present in 22q11DS.


We employed proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) to quantify glutamate and other neurometabolites in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and hippocampus of 22 adults with 22q11DS (22q11DS SCZ+) and without (22q11DS SCZ-) schizophrenia and 23 age-matched healthy controls. Also, plasma proline levels were determined in the 22q11DS group.


We found significantly increased concentrations of glutamate and myo-inositol in the hippocampal region of 22q11DS SCZ+ compared to 22q11DS SCZ-. There were no significant differences in levels of plasma proline between 22q11DS SCZ+ and 22q11DS SCZ-. There was no relationship between plasma proline and cerebral glutamate in 22q11DS.


This is the first in vivo 1H-MRS study in 22q11DS. Our results suggest vulnerability of the hippocampus in the psychopathology of 22q11DS SCZ+. Altered hippocampal glutamate and myo-inositol metabolism may partially explain the psychotic symptoms and cognitive impairments seen in this group of patients.