ABSTRACT: The cerebellum has long been recognized for its role in motor co-ordination, but it is also increasingly appreciated for its role in complex cognitive behavior. Historically, the cerebellum has been overwhelmingly understudied compared to the neocortex in both humans and model organisms. However, this tide is changing as advances in neuroimaging, neuropathology, and neurogenetics have led to clinical classification and gene identification for numerous developmental disorders that impact cerebellar structure and function associated with significant overall neurodevelopmental dysfunction. Given the broad range in prognosis and associated medical and neurodevelopmental concerns accompanying cerebellar malformations, a working knowledge of these disorders and their causes is critical for obstetricians, perinatologists, and neonatologists. Here we present an update on the genetic causes for cerebellar malformations that can be recognized by neuroimaging and clinical characteristics during the prenatal and postnatal periods.
Project description:Historically, the midbrain and hindbrain have been considered of secondary importance to the cerebrum, which has typically been acknowledged as the most important part of the brain. In the past, radiologists and pathologists did not regularly examine these structures-also known as the brainstem and cerebellum-because they are small and difficult to remove without damage. With recent developments in neuroimaging, neuropathology, and neurogenetics, many developmental disorders of the midbrain and hindbrain have emerged as causes of neurodevelopmental dysfunction. These research advances may change the way in which we treat these patients in the future and will enhance the clinical acumen of the practising neurologist and thereby improve the diagnosis and treatment of these patients.
Project description:Cerebellar malformations are diverse congenital anomalies frequently associated with developmental disability. Although genetic and prenatal non-genetic causes have been described, no systematic analysis has been performed. Here, we present a large-exome sequencing study of Dandy-Walker malformation (DWM) and cerebellar hypoplasia (CBLH). We performed exome sequencing in 282 individuals from 100 families with DWM or CBLH, and we established a molecular diagnosis in 36 of 100 families, with a significantly higher yield for CBLH (51%) than for DWM (16%). The 41 variants impact 27 neurodevelopmental-disorder-associated genes, thus demonstrating that CBLH and DWM are often features of monogenic neurodevelopmental disorders. Though only seven monogenic causes (19%) were identified in more than one individual, neuroimaging review of 131 additional individuals confirmed cerebellar abnormalities in 23 of 27 genetic disorders (85%). Prenatal risk factors were frequently found among individuals without a genetic diagnosis (30 of 64 individuals [47%]). Single-cell RNA sequencing of prenatal human cerebellar tissue revealed gene enrichment in neuronal and vascular cell types; this suggests that defective vasculogenesis may disrupt cerebellar development. Further, de novo gain-of-function variants in PDGFRB, a tyrosine kinase receptor essential for vascular progenitor signaling, were associated with CBLH, and this discovery links genetic and non-genetic etiologies. Our results suggest that genetic defects impact specific cerebellar cell types and implicate abnormal vascular development as a mechanism for cerebellar malformations. We also confirmed a major contribution for non-genetic prenatal factors in individuals with cerebellar abnormalities, substantially influencing diagnostic evaluation and counseling regarding recurrence risk and prognosis.
Project description:Monosomy 1p36 is the most common subtelomeric chromosomal deletion linked to mental retardation and seizures. Neuroimaging studies suggest that monosomy 1p36 is associated with brain malformations including polymicrogyria and nodular heterotopia, but the histopathology of these lesions is unknown. Here we present postmortem neuropathological findings from a 10 year-old girl with monosomy 1p36, who died of respiratory complications. The findings included micrencephaly, periventricular nodular heterotopia in occipitotemporal lobes, cortical dysgenesis resembling polymicrogyria in dorsolateral frontal lobes, hippocampal malrotation, callosal hypoplasia, superiorly rotated cerebellum with small vermis, and lumbosacral hydromyelia. The abnormal cortex exhibited "festooned" (undulating) supragranular layers, but no significant fusion of the molecular layer. Deletion mapping demonstrated single copy loss of a contiguous 1p36 terminal region encompassing many important neurodevelopmental genes, among them four HES genes implicated in regulating neural stem cell differentiation, and TP73, a monoallelically expressed gene. Our results suggest that brain and spinal malformations in monosomy 1p36 may be more extensive than previously recognized, and may depend on the parental origin of deleted genes. More broadly, our results suggest that specific genetic disorders may cause distinct forms of cortical dysgenesis.
Project description:Neuroimaging plays a key role in the diagnostic work-up of morphological abnormalities of the cerebellum. Diagnostic criteria for numerous morphological anomalies of the cerebellum are based on neuroimaging findings. Various morphological patterns have been described on neuroimaging including cerebellar hypoplasia, cerebellar agenesis, pontocerebellar hypoplasia, cerebellar dysplasia, cerebellar dysmorphia, and cerebellar atrophy. These patterns have specific differential diagnoses. The familiarity with the diagnostic criteria is mandatory for a correct diagnosis and a targeted work-up to avoid unnecessary investigations. A correct diagnosis is essential for early therapy, prognosis, and counseling of the affected children and their family.
Project description:Chromosome 2p15p16.1 deletion syndrome is a rare genetic disorder characterized by intellectual disability (ID), neurodevelopmental delay, language delay, growth retardation, microcephaly, structural brain abnormalities, and dysmorphic features. More than 30 patients with 2p15p16.1 microdeletion syndrome have been reported in the literature.Molecular analysis was performed using microarray-based comparative genomic hybridization (array CGH). Clinical characteristics and brain magnetic resonance imaging features of these patients were also reviewed.We identified four patients with ID, neurodevelopmental delay, brain malformations, and dysmorphic features; two patients with 2p15p16.1 deletions (3.24 Mb, 5.04 Mb), one patient with 2p16.1 deletion (1.12 Mb), and one patient with 2p14p16.1 deletion (5.12 Mb). Three patients with 2p15p16.1 deletions or 2p16.1 deletions encompassing BCL11A,PAPOLG, and REL showed hypoplasia of the pons and cerebellum. The patient with 2p14p16.1 deletion, which did not include three genes showed normal size and shape of the cerebellar hemispheres and pons.The zinc finger transcription factor BCL11A associated with the BAF chromatin remodeling complex has been identified to be critical for neural development and BCL11A haploinsufficiency is closely related to cerebellar abnormalities.
Project description:The cerebellum is a large hindbrain structure that is increasingly recognized for its contribution to diverse domains of cognitive and affective processing in human health and disease. Although several of these domains are sex biased, our fundamental understanding of cerebellar sex differences-including their spatial distribution, potential biological determinants, and independence from brain volume variation-lags far behind that for the cerebrum. Here, we harness automated neuroimaging methods for cerebellar morphometrics in 417 individuals to (1) localize normative male-female differences in raw cerebellar volume, (2) compare these to sex chromosome effects estimated across five rare sex (X/Y) chromosome aneuploidy (SCA) syndromes, and (3) clarify brain size-independent effects of sex and SCA on cerebellar anatomy using a generalizable allometric approach that considers scaling relationships between regional cerebellar volume and brain volume in health. The integration of these approaches shows that (1) sex and SCA effects on raw cerebellar volume are large and distributed, but regionally heterogeneous, (2) human cerebellar volume scales with brain volume in a highly nonlinear and regionally heterogeneous fashion that departs from documented patterns of cerebellar scaling in phylogeny, and (3) cerebellar organization is modified in a brain size-independent manner by sex (relative expansion of total cerebellum, flocculus, and Crus II-lobule VIIIB volumes in males) and SCA (contraction of total cerebellar, lobule IV, and Crus I volumes with additional X- or Y-chromosomes; X-specific contraction of Crus II-lobule VIIIB). Our methods and results clarify the shifts in human cerebellar organization that accompany interwoven variations in sex, sex chromosome complement, and brain size.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Cerebellar systems are implicated in diverse domains of sex-biased behavior and pathology, but we lack a basic understanding of how sex differences in the human cerebellum are distributed and determined. We leverage a rare neuroimaging dataset to deconvolve the interwoven effects of sex, sex chromosome complement, and brain size on human cerebellar organization. We reveal topographically variegated scaling relationships between regional cerebellar volume and brain size in humans, which (1) are distinct from those observed in phylogeny, (2) invalidate a traditional neuroimaging method for brain volume correction, and (3) allow more valid and accurate resolution of which cerebellar subcomponents are sensitive to sex and sex chromosome complement. These findings advance understanding of cerebellar organization in health and sex chromosome aneuploidy.
Project description:Neuronal positioning is a fundamental process during brain development. Abnormalities in this process cause several types of brain malformations and are linked to neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, intellectual disability, epilepsy, and schizophrenia. Little is known about the pathogenesis of developmental brain malformations associated with abnormal neuron positioning, which has hindered research into potential treatments. However, recent advances in neurogenetics provide clues to the pathogenesis of aberrant neuronal positioning by identifying causative genes. This may help us form a foundation upon which therapeutic tools can be developed. In this review, we first provide a brief overview of neural development and migration, as they relate to defects in neuronal positioning. We then discuss recent progress in identifying genes and brain malformations associated with aberrant neuronal positioning during human brain development.
Project description:A patient diagnosed with developmental delay, intellectual disability, and autistic and obsessive-compulsive symptoms was found to have a posterior fossa arachnoid cyst (PFAC) compressing the cerebellum. The patient was referred to our Ataxia Unit for consideration of surgical drainage of the cyst to improve his clinical constellation. This scenario led to an in-depth analysis including a literature review, functional resting-state MRI analysis of our patient compared to a group of controls, and genetic testing. While it is reasonable to consider that there may be a causal relationship between PFAC and neurodevelopmental or psychiatric symptoms in some patients, there is also a nontrivial prevalence of PFAC in the asymptomatic population and a significant possibility that many PFAC are incidental findings in the context of primary cognitive or psychiatric symptoms. Our functional MRI analysis is the first to examine brain function, and to report cerebellar dysfunction, in a patient presenting with cognitive/psychiatric symptoms found to have a structural abnormality compressing the cerebellum. These neuroimaging findings are inherently limited due to their correlational nature but provide unprecedented evidence suggesting that cerebellar compression may be associated with cerebellar dysfunction. Exome gene sequencing revealed additional etiological possibilities, highlighting the complexity of this field of cerebellar clinical and scientific practice. Our findings and discussion may guide future investigations addressing an important knowledge gap-namely, is there a link between cerebellar compression (including arachnoid cysts and possibly other forms of cerebellar compression such as Chiari malformation), cerebellar dysfunction (including fMRI abnormalities reported here), and neuropsychiatric symptoms?
Project description:Human WWOX gene resides in the chromosomal common fragile site FRA16D and encodes a tumor suppressor WW domain-containing oxidoreductase. Loss-of-function mutations in both alleles of WWOX gene lead to autosomal recessive abnormalities in pediatric patients from consanguineous families, including microcephaly, cerebellar ataxia with epilepsy, mental retardation, retinal degeneration, developmental delay and early death. Here, we report that targeted disruption of Wwox gene in mice causes neurodevelopmental disorders, encompassing abnormal neuronal differentiation and migration in the brain. Cerebral malformations, such as microcephaly and incomplete separation of the hemispheres by a partial interhemispheric fissure, neuronal disorganization and heterotopia, and defective cerebellar midline fusion are observed in Wwox-/- mice. Degenerative alterations including severe hypomyelination in the central nervous system, optic nerve atrophy, Purkinje cell loss and granular cell apoptosis in the cerebellum, and peripheral nerve demyelination due to Schwann cell apoptosis correspond to reduced amplitudes and a latency prolongation of transcranial motor evoked potentials, motor deficits and gait ataxia in Wwox-/- mice. Wwox gene ablation leads to the occurrence of spontaneous epilepsy and increased susceptibility to pilocarpine- and pentylenetetrazol (PTZ)-induced seizures in preweaning mice. We determined that a significantly increased activation of glycogen synthase kinase 3? (GSK3?) occurs in Wwox-/- mouse cerebral cortex, hippocampus and cerebellum. Inhibition of GSK3? by lithium ion significantly abolishes the onset of PTZ-induced seizure in Wwox-/- mice. Together, our findings reveal that the neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative deficits in Wwox knockout mice strikingly recapitulate the key features of human neuropathies, and that targeting GSK3? with lithium ion ameliorates epilepsy.
Project description:Aims and Objectives:Pontocerebellar hypoplasia (PCH) constitutes a heterogeneous group of neurodegenerative/neurodevelopmental disorder of pons and cerebellum with onset in prenatal period. This study aimed to discuss the clinical, radiological profile, and outcome of four infants with PCH attending our center. Materials and Methods:Data of children with psychomotor retardation seen between January 2015 and December 2015 at neurodevelopmental clinic was retrieved. PCH was defined by clinical and radiological criteria. Clinical features included were delay in attainment of milestones in more than two developmental domains accompanied by severe microcephaly. Radiological evidence of cerebellar volume loss with hypoplasia of pons was included. Patient charts were reviewed for clinical features, neuroimaging, electroencephalography, and biochemical investigations including serum and cerebrospinal lactate. Molecular genetic testing for the common p.A307S mutation in TSEN54 of the cases and their parents were also analyzed. Results:During this period, 101 children with psychomotor retardation were evaluated at our center. Of the 101, four children were with clinical and radiological evidence of PCH. In addition to psychomotor retardation and severe microcephaly, spasticity, bipyramidal signs, and epileptic spasms were universal in all four children. Three of the four children had optic atrophy and two had sensorineural hearing loss. Severe cerebellar hypoplasia with attenuated pons was seen in all four children. Two children had dragonfly appearance of cerebellum on coronal section. The commonest TSEN54 p.A307S mutation in children and their parents was not detected. Conclusion:A heightened index of suspicion for PCH is merited in infants with progressive psychomotor retardation and severe microcephaly. Cerebellar hypoplasia with pontine attenuation forms the mainstay of diagnosis of PCH.