V. Multi-level analysis of cortical neuroanatomy in Williams syndrome.
The purpose of a neuroanatomical analysis of Williams Syndrome (WMS) brains is to help bridge the knowledge of the genetics of this disorder with the knowledge on behavior. Here, we outline findings of cortical neuroanatomy at multiple levels. We describe the gross anatomy with respect to brain shape, cortical folding, and asymmetry. This, as with most neuroanatomical information available in the literature on anatomical-functional correlations, links up best to the behavioral profile. Then, we describe the cytoarchitectonic appearance of the cortex. Further, we report on some histometric results. Finally, we present findings of immunocytochemistry that attempt to link up to the genomic deletion. The gross anatomical findings consist mainly of a small brain that shows curtailment in the posterior-parietal and occipital regions. There is also subtle dysmorphism of cortical folding. A consistent finding is a short central sulcus that does not become opercularized in the interhemispheric fissure, bringing attention to a possible developmental anomaly affecting the dorsal half of the hemispheres. There is also lack of asymmetry in the planum temporale. The cortical cytoarchitecture is relatively normal, with all sampled areas showing features typical of the region from which they are taken. Measurements in area 17 show increased cell size and decreased cell-packing density, which address the issue of possible abnormal connectivity. Immunostaining shows absence of elastin but normal staining for Lim-1 kinase, both of which are products of genes that are part of the deletion. Finally, one serially sectioned brain shows a fair amount of acquired pathology of microvascular origin related most likely to underlying hypertension and heart disease.