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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 101-104

Current perspectives on velocardiofacial syndrome

1 Department of Zoology, Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, India
2 Division of Cancer Biology, Mitra RxDx Inc, Woburn, MA 01801, USA
3 Department of Molecular Genetics, Sickle Cell Institute Chhattisgarh, Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India

Date of Web Publication23-Nov-2017

Correspondence Address:
Bhaskar V. K. S. Lakkakula
Sickle Cell Institute Chhattisgarh, Pt. JNM Medical College, Raipur, Chhattisgarh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/bbrj.bbrj_63_17

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Velocardiofacial syndrome (VCFS) is one of the most common genetic disorders that affect every major system in the body. The worldwide frequency of VCFS is 1 in 2000 live births. A search using the terms and variants of velo-cardio facial syndrome, VCFS, and disabilities within PubMed, Embase, and Scopus was carried out and restricted to human studies published in English. Further, reference lists were checked to identify relevant studies. The phenotypic spectrum of VCFS overlaps with that of DiGeorge syndrome and includes physical, cognitive, behavioral, and neurological disabilities. The VCFS is caused by hemizygous deletions on chromosome 22q11.2 and usually diagnosed at childhood. Several approaches, such as fluorescence in situ hybridization and polymerase chain reaction-based techniques, have been applied to analyze deleted regions. As majority of the VCFS children have multiple diagnoses, it may need more time to find appropriate combination of medications that will work for them. Treatment for VCFS is always depended on child's age, overall health, medical history, and child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies, and parents' opinion or preference.

Keywords: 22q11 deletion, digeorge anomaly, signs and symptoms, velocardiofacial syndrome

How to cite this article:
Lakkakula S, Baraneedharan U, Lakkakula BV. Current perspectives on velocardiofacial syndrome. Biomed Biotechnol Res J 2017;1:101-4

How to cite this URL:
Lakkakula S, Baraneedharan U, Lakkakula BV. Current perspectives on velocardiofacial syndrome. Biomed Biotechnol Res J [serial online] 2017 [cited 2022 Jan 24];1:101-4. Available from: https://www.bmbtrj.org/text.asp?2017/1/2/101/219106

  Introduction Top

Velocardiofacial syndrome (VCFS; MIM 192430) is one of the most common genetic disorders that affect every major system in the body [Figure 1]. The worldwide frequency of VCFS is 1 in 2000 live births. The VCFS disabilities may be physical, cognitive, behavioral, and neurological.[1],[2],[3] Cognitive deficits, problems in arithmetic calculation, or reasoning,[4] distinct inadequacies in visuospatial memory, visual attention, and working memory were documented in the individuals with VCFS.[5] Neurological symptoms include poor psychomotor, tactile, and perceptual skills.[4] Development of schizophrenia during adolescence or early adulthood was reported in 15% and 25% of VCFS patients, respectively; hence, VCFS is proposed as a model for a genetically mediated subtype of schizophrenia.[6],[7] The phenotypic spectrum of VCFS overlaps with that of DiGeorge syndrome (DGS; MIM 188400); hence, VCFS and DGS have the same molecular etiology.[8],[9] VCFS occurs in 90% of cases from a large 3-Mb deletion on chromosome 22 (del 22q11.2).[10],[11] Analysis of 14 simple tandem repeat markers in each patient and their unaffected parents led to the detection of the extent of the deletion in VCFS patients.[11] For this review, a search using the combination of terms and variants of velo-cardio facial syndrome, VCFS, and disabilities within PubMed, Embase, Scopus, and directory of open access journals was carried out and restricted to human studies published in English. Further, reference lists were checked to identify the relevant studies.
Figure 1: Common clinical features and complications of velocardiofacial syndrome

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  Distribution Top

Given the poor survival of individuals with VCFS, the population prevalence for VCFS is not as high as incidence. The prevalence of VCFS is estimated based on the birth records, reports of infant examinations, or reports of anomalies from multiple sources that were admitted to “technical errors” and “an inadequate quality- control protocol.”[12] However, in the world populations, the prevalence of VCFS is ranging from approximately 1:2000 to 1:7000.[13] As VCFS patients survive better in places where good surgical care and neonatal intensive care units are available, higher prevalence was noted in developed and medically sophisticated countries compared to developing or undeveloped countries.[12]

  Physical Features Top

The physical features of VCFS individuals include extended face, tiny ears with over-furled helices, upslanting eyes, a broadened nasal bridge with a prominent nasal tip, and a petite mouth with cleft palate and/or cleft lip. Further, patients with VCFS have several symptomatic cardiac malformations.

  Behavioral Features Top

Behavioral excitation is the main feature of VCFS and they exhibit an extravagant response to hostile stimuli, and in both children and adolescents, a long-term fearfulness of repeated painful episodes was documented.[14] In addition, children with VCFS are reported to have poor social relations with minimal facial expression, attention-deficit, and high intensity of disquiet and depression.[15],[16] Several studies also reported high rates of bipolar disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder, and psychosis in VCFS individuals.[1],[2],[17],[18]

  Neuropsychological Deficits Top

Neuropsychological deficits among the VCFS children include language abnormalities such as immature language usage, poor development of numeric skills, and significant impairments in reading and spelling.[14] On tests of general intellectual functioning, the verbal intelligence quotient (IQ) exceeds performance IQ in the children with VCFS.[16],[19] These variations in IQ reflect the problems in planning capability, visuospatial capacity, and concept construction.

  Brain Structural Anomalies Top

Although the biological determinants of the neurocognitive and behavioral features of VCFS are not yet fully understood, this disorder has measurable effects on brain structure and function.[20],[21],[22],[23],[24],[25] Quantitative neuroimaging studies revealed decreased gray and white matter volumes in parietal lobe and frontal lobe.[22],[24],[26],[27] Dissimilarities that observed in the construction of regional white matter tracts in VCFS adults reflected the variations in the volumes of the frontal, parietal, and temporal lobes.[26],[28] Observation of brain activation made during an arithmetic task in VCFS demonstrated an uncharacteristic functional stimulation in the left parietal region leading to deficiencies in arithmetic reasoning and parietal lobe function.[29] Analyses of gyrification have suggested that early abnormal connectivity is likely to change initial cortical morphology.[30],[31] This may explain numerous reports of cortical dysgenesis in patients with VCFS.[32],[33],[34]

  Etiology Top

VCFS is a genetic condition and all of the genes that cause VCFS have not been identified. Nearly 85% of VCFS patients and 10%–30% of patients with isolated conotruncal defects carry a microdeletion on the long arm of one copy of chromosome 22 at band q11.2.[35],[36] The deletion at 22q11.2 segregates as autosomal dominant fashion that results in a haploinsufficiency of products encoded by genes within the deleted region. As the 22q11 region is susceptible to rearrangements, the deletions occur as sporadic in nature. It was also demonstrated that 83% of the patients had a detec[table 22]q11 deletion [Figure 2]. Haplotype analysis revealed that 90% of the VCFS patients with a deletion had a similar 3-Mb deletion.[11] Studies using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) also revealed that the VCFS/DGS region on 22q11 was bordered by low-copy repetitive sequences.[37] Constructing high-resolution physical maps in the interval sequences of the proximal and distal end of 3 Mb breakpoints also revealed the presence of low-copy repetitive sequences and designated them “VCFS-REPs.”[38]{table 22}
Figure 2: Deletions reported from chromosome 22 and velocardiofacial syndrome

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Although the VCFS can be predicted by physical examination and family history, the exact diagnostic procedure includes blood tests and other tests to examine the immune system problems.[39] X- rays of the body, its organs, and other internal structures are useful to diagnose the problem. Echocardiography evaluates the structure and condition of heart valves. Conotruncal heart defects, clefting, other facial features, hypocalcemia, and thymus lacking are identified. The microdeletion of chromosome 22q11.2 is not visible by conventional cytogenetic analysis, but detectable by FISH which can detect smaller deletions or duplications.[40] If a 22q11 deletion is detected in a child, then both parents should be tested for deletion to see if this deletion is hereditary or sporadic. The 22q11 deletion was detected in at least one of the parents in approximately 10% of families and shows an inheritance risk of 50% with each pregnancy. The standard FISH technique is time-consuming, laborious, costly, and put up with the significant limitation that some patients with uniquely localized microdeletions or duplications may yield normal clinical FISH findings because the probe set used does not map precisely to the entire region of deletions/duplication. If the FISH test fails to detect no deletion in 22q11 region and the characters of VCFS are still strikingly indicative, comparative genomic hybridization technique should be executed to probe for other chromosomal abnormalities. Currently, DNA arrays providing full coverage of the human genome are widely available to diagnostically screen large number of patients.[41]

As an alternative to the FISH technique,[40] a semi-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) can be used.[42] For this assay, exon 5 of catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) (deleted in VCFS cases) on chromosome 22 and exon 11 of the ATP-binding cassette subfamily G member 1 (ABCG1) gene on chromosome 21 regions should be simultaneously amplified in the same reaction. Screening of both ABCG1 and COMT has revealed that there are no common polymorphisms within these fragments that can interfere with the reaction.[43],[44] If a person has a single copy of COMT, the ratio of COMT/ABCG1 is ~50% than that of the ratio obtained from an individual with two copies of COMT.[45] Real-time quantitative PCR approach was reported as an accurate method for the detection of chromosomal microdeletions and microduplications.[46]

Intervention and Treatment

A small percentage of 22q11 deletion children with severe heart defects and immune system problems will not survive the 1st year of life. With the appropriate management, these children will survive and mature into adulthood. However, they need support during schooling and will need long-term assistance for their specific health requirements. Early intervention in improving muscle strength, mental stimulation, and speech problems will help the VCFS. Evaluation of heart defects by a cardiologist, correction of cleft lip and/or palate by a plastic surgeon and speech pathologist, assessment of feeding difficulties by gastrointestinal specialists will help in the management of VCFS.[47] Treatment for VCFS is always depends on child's age, overall health, medical history, and child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies, and parents opinion or preference.

  Conclusion Top

As the complications of VCFS are broad, parents need to identify, understand, and learn how to cope with the affected child. Further, if any symptoms related to behavioural and emotional problems are seen, a psychiatric professional help should be sought right away. Furthermore, if any VCFS patient has schizophrenia and other psychiatric illness, it is required to treat with available medications that inhibit COMT gene to improve cognition and perhaps reduce illness severity. However, a majority of the VCFS children have multiple diagnoses and need more time to find a combination of medications that will work for them.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

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