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Fixel Based Analysis Reveals Atypical White Matter Micro- and Macrostructure in Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Investigation of the Role of Biological Sex

Authors
  • Kirkovski, Melissa1, 2
  • Fuelscher, Ian1
  • Hyde, Christian1
  • Donaldson, Peter H.1
  • Ford, Talitha C.1, 3
  • Rossell, Susan L.4
  • Fitzgerald, Paul B.2, 5
  • Enticott, Peter G.1, 2
  • 1 Cognitive Neuroscience Unit, School of Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong, VIC , (Australia)
  • 2 Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC , (Australia)
  • 3 Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University, Melbourne, VIC , (Australia)
  • 4 Centre for Mental Health, Swinburne University, Melbourne, VIC , (Australia)
  • 5 Epworth Centre for Innovation in Mental Health, Epworth Health Care and Central Clinical School Monash University, Melbourne, VIC , (Australia)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience
Publisher
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Aug 13, 2020
Volume
14
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3389/fnint.2020.00040
PMID: 32903660
PMCID: PMC7438780
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

Atypical white matter (WM) microstructure is commonly implicated in the neuropathophysiology of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Fixel based analysis (FBA), at the cutting-edge of diffusion-weighted imaging, can account for crossing WM fibers and can provide indices of both WM micro- and macrostructure. We applied FBA to investigate WM structure between 25 (12 males, 13 females) adults with ASD and 24 (12 males, 12 females) matched controls. As the role of biological sex on the neuropathophysiology of ASD is of increasing interest, this was also explored. There were no significant differences in WM micro- or macrostructure between adults with ASD and matched healthy controls. When data were stratified by sex, females with ASD had reduced fiber density and cross-section (FDC), a combined metric comprised of micro- and macrostructural measures, in the corpus callosum, a finding not detected between the male sub-groups. We conclude that micro- and macrostructural WM aberrations are present in ASD, and may be influenced by biological sex.

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