Diminished Gray Matter Within the Hypothalamus in Autism Disorder: A Potential Link to Hormonal Effects?

Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Geffen School of Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles, 760 Westwood Plaza 47-417, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1759, USA.
Biological psychiatry (Impact Factor: 10.26). 04/2011; 70(3):278-82. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2011.03.026
Source: PubMed


Subjects with autism suffer from impairments of social interaction, deviations in language usage, as well as restricted and stereotyped patterns of behavior. These characteristics are found irrespective of age, IQ, and gender of affected subjects. However, brain changes due to age, IQ, and gender might pose potential confounds in autism neuroimaging analyses.
To investigate gray matter differences in autism that are not related to these potential confounds, we performed a voxel-based morphometry analysis in 52 affected children and adolescents and 52 matched control subjects.
We observed diminished gray matter in a region of the hypothalamus, which synthesizes the behaviorally relevant hormones oxytocin and arginine vasopressin.
This finding provides support for further investigations of the theory of abnormal functioning of this hormonal system in autism and potentially for experimental therapeutic approaches with oxytocin and related neuropeptides.

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Available from: Rochelle Caplan, Dec 13, 2013
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