To analyze and compare cerebral white matter tracts through diffusion tensor imaging in autistic and normal children.
This is a case-control study on a sample of eight male, right-handed children diagnosed with autism according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-4th Edition criteria, and eight healthy age- and sex-matched controls. Imaging studies were performed on a 1.5-T scanner (Symphony Maestro Class, Siemens, Erlangen, Germany). Fractional anisotropy was calculated for the frontopontine and corticospinal tracts, frontal subcortical white matter, anterior cingulate, corpus callosum, striatum, internal capsule, optic radiation, superior and inferior longitudinal fascicles, and cerebellum. Analysis of significance was based on analysis of variance test for the mean fractional anisotropy values.
Median age of cases was 9.53 ± 1.83 years, and of controls, 9.57 ± 1.36 years. Diffusion tensor imaging findings included significant reduction of fractional anisotropy in the anterior corpus callosum (P= .008), right corticospinal tract (P= .044), posterior limb of right and left internal capsules (P= .003 and .049, respectively), left superior cerebellar peduncle (P= .031), and right and left middle cerebellar peduncles (P= .043 and .039, respectively) in autistic children.
The diffusion tensor imaging findings in children with autistic disorder suggest impairment of white matter microstructure, possibly associated with reduced connectivity in corpus callosum, internal capsule, and superior and middle cerebellar peduncles.