A Topographic Study of Minicolumnar Core Width by Lamina Comparison between Autistic Subjects and Controls: Possible Minicolumnar Disruption due to an Anatomical Element In-Common to Multiple Laminae


Manuel F. Casanova, MD, 500 S Preston St Bldg. 55A Rm. 217, Louisville, KY 40292, USA (E-mail: m0casa02@louisville.edu)


Radial cell minicolumns are basic cytoarchitectonic motifs of the mammalian neocortex. Recent studies reveal that autism is associated with a “minicolumnopathy” defined by decreased columnar width and both a diminished and disrupted peripheral neuropil compartment. This study further characterizes this cortical deficit by comparing minicolumnar widths across layers. Brains from seven autistic patients and an equal number of age-matched controls were celloidin embedded, serially sectioned at 200 µm and Nissl stained with gallocyanin. Photomicrograph mosaics of the cortex were analyzed with computerized imaging methods to determine minicolumnar width at nine separate neocortical areas: Brodmann Area's (BA) 3b, 4, 9, 10, 11, 17, 24, 43 and 44. Each area was assessed at supragranular, granular and infragranular levels. Autistic subjects had smaller minicolumns whose dimensions varied according to neocortical area. The greatest difference between autistic and control groups was observed in area 44. The interaction of diagnosis × cortical area × lamina (F16,316 = 1.33; P = 0.175) was not significant. Diminished minicolumnar width across deep and superficial neocortical layers most probably reflects involvement of shared constituents among the different layers. In this article we discuss the possible role of double bouquet and pyramidal cells in the translaminar minicolumnar width narrowing observed in autistic subjects.