Unusual brain growth patterns in early life in patients with autistic disorder: an MRI study.
ABSTRACT To quantify developmental abnormalities in cerebral and cerebellar volume in autism.
The authors studied 60 autistic and 52 normal boys (age, 2 to 16 years) using MRI. Thirty autistic boys were diagnosed and scanned when 5 years or older. The other 30 were scanned when 2 through 4 years of age and then diagnosed with autism at least 2.5 years later, at an age when the diagnosis of autism is more reliable.
Neonatal head circumferences from clinical records were available for 14 of 15 autistic 2- to 5-year-olds and, on average, were normal (35.1 +/- 1.3 cm versus clinical norms: 34.6 +/- 1.6 cm), indicative of normal overall brain volume at birth; one measure was above the 95th percentile. By ages 2 to 4 years, 90% of autistic boys had a brain volume larger than normal average, and 37% met criteria for developmental macrencephaly. Autistic 2- to 3-year-olds had more cerebral (18%) and cerebellar (39%) white matter, and more cerebral cortical gray matter (12%) than normal, whereas older autistic children and adolescents did not have such enlarged gray and white matter volumes. In the cerebellum, autistic boys had less gray matter, smaller ratio of gray to white matter, and smaller vermis lobules VI-VII than normal controls.
Abnormal regulation of brain growth in autism results in early overgrowth followed by abnormally slowed growth. Hyperplasia was present in cerebral gray matter and cerebral and cerebellar white matter in early life in patients with autism.
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Article: A Cortical-based Theory of Autism
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ABSTRACT: Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized by impairments in social communication and restrictive, repetitive behaviors. While behavioral symptoms are well-documented, investigations into the neurobiological underpinnings of ASD have not resulted in firm biomarkers. Variability in findings across structural neuroimaging studies has contributed to difficulty in reliably characterizing the brain morphology of individuals with ASD. These inconsistencies may also arise from the heterogeneity of ASD, and wider age-range of participants included in MRI studies and in previous meta-analyses. To address this, the current study used coordinate-based anatomical likelihood estimation (ALE) analysis of 21 voxel-based morphometry (VBM) studies examining high-functioning individuals with ASD, resulting in a meta-analysis of 1055 participants (506 ASD, and 549 typically developing individuals). Results consisted of grey, white, and global differences in cortical matter between the groups. Modeled anatomical maps consisting of concentration, thickness, and volume metrics of grey and white matter revealed clusters suggesting age-related decreases in grey and white matter in parietal and inferior temporal regions of the brain in ASD, and age-related increases in grey matter in frontal and anterior-temporal regions. White matter alterations included fiber tracts thought to play key roles in information processing and sensory integration. Many current theories of pathobiology ASD suggest that the brains of individuals with ASD may have less-functional long-range (anterior-to-posterior) connections. Our findings of decreased cortical matter in parietal–temporal and occipital regions, and thickening in frontal cortices in older adults with ASD may entail altered cortical anatomy, and neurodevelopmental adaptations.NeuroImage: Clinical. 11/2014;
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ABSTRACT: Glufosinate ammonium (GLA) is one of the most widely used herbicides in agriculture. As is the case for most pesticides, potential adverse effects of GLA have not been studied from the perspective of developmental neurotoxicity. Early pesticides exposure may weaken the basic structure of the developing brain and cause permanent changes leading to a wide range of lifelong effects on health and/or behavior. Here, we addressed the developmental impact of GLA by exposing female mice to low dose GLA during both pre- and postnatal periods and analyzed potential developmental and behavioral changes of the offspring during infancy and adulthood. A neurobehavioral test battery revealed significant effects of GLA maternal exposure on early reflex development, pup communication, affiliative behaviors, and preference for social olfactory cues, but emotional reactivity and emotional memory remained unaltered. These behavioral alterations showed a striking resemblance to changes seen in animal models of Autistic Spectrum Disorders. At the brain level, GLA maternal exposure caused some increase in relative brain weight of the offspring. In addition, reduced expression of Pten and Peg3 – two genes implicated in autism-like deficits – was observed in the brain of GLA-exposed pups at postnatal day 15. Our work thus provides new data on the link between pre- and postnatal exposure to the herbicide GLA and the onset of autism-like symptoms later in life. It also raises fundamental concerns about the ability of current safety testing to assess risks of pesticide exposure during critical developmental periods.Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 11/2014; 8:1-14. · 4.16 Impact Factor