Molecular Autism (2020-10-01)

White matter alterations in autism spectrum disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in relation to sensory profile

  • Haruhisa Ohta,
  • Yuta Y. Aoki,
  • Takashi Itahashi,
  • Chieko Kanai,
  • Junya Fujino,
  • Motoaki Nakamura,
  • Nobumasa Kato,
  • Ryu-ichiro Hashimoto

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 1
pp. 1 – 13


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Abstract Background Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have high rates of co-occurrence and share atypical behavioral characteristics, including sensory symptoms. The present diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) study was conducted to examine whether and how white matter alterations are observed in adult populations with developmental disorders (DD) and to determine how brain–sensory relationships are either shared between or distinct to ASD and ADHD. Methods We collected DTI data from adult population with DD (a primary diagnosis of ASD: n = 105, ADHD: n = 55) as well as age- and sex-matched typically developing (TD) participants (n = 58). Voxel-wise fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity, axial diffusivity, and radial diffusivity (RD) were analyzed using tract-based spatial statistics. The severities of sensory symptoms were assessed using the Adolescent/Adult Sensory Profile (AASP). Results Categorical analyses identified voxel clusters showing significant effects of DD on FA and RD in the posterior portion of the corpus callosum and its extension in the right hemisphere. Furthermore, regression analyses using the AASP scores revealed that slopes in relationships of FA or RD with the degree of sensory symptoms were parallel between the two DDs in large parts of the affected corpus callosum regions. A small but significant cluster did exist showing difference in association between an AASP subscale score and RD across ASD and ADHD. Limitations Wide age range of the participants may be oversimplified. Conclusions These results indicate that white matter alteration and their relationships to sensory symptoms are largely shared between ASD and ADHD, with localized abnormalities showing significant between-diagnosis differences within DD.