The effect of age on vertex-based measures of the grey-white matter tissue contrast in autism spectrum disorder

  • Background: Histological evidence suggests that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is accompanied by a reduced integrity of the grey-white matter boundary. This has also recently been confirmed by a structural neuroimaging study in vivo reporting significantly reduced grey-white matter tissue contrast (GWC) in adult individuals (18–42 years of age) with ASD relative to typically developing (TD) controls. However, it remains unknown whether the neuroanatomical differences in ASD at the grey-white matter boundary are stable across development or are age-dependent. Methods: Here, we examined differences in the neurodevelopmental trajectories of GWC in a cross-sectional sample of 77 male ASD individuals and 76 typically developing (TD) controls across childhood and early adulthood (from 7 to 25 years). Results: Using nested model comparisons, we first established that the developmental trajectory of GWC is complex in many regions across the cortex and includes linear and non-linear effects of age. Second, while ASD individuals have significantly reduced GWC overall, these differences are age-dependent and are most prominent during childhood (< 15 years). Conclusions: Taken together, our findings suggest that differences in GWC in ASD are unlikely to reflect atypical grey matter cytoarchitecture alone, but may also represent other aspects of the cortical architecture such as age-dependent variability in myelin integrity.
Author:Caroline MannORCiD, Anke BletschORCiDGND, Derek Andrews, Eileen DalyORCiD, Clodagh MurphyORCiD, Declan MurphyORCiD, Christine EckerORCiD
Pubmed Id:
Parent Title (English):Molecular autism
Publisher:BioMed Central
Place of publication:London
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2018
Date of first Publication:2018/10/01
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Contributing Corporation:MRC AIMS Consortium
Release Date:2018/10/16
Tag:Autism spectrum disorder; Brain anatomy; Neurodevelopment; Neuroimaging; Structural MRI
Issue:Art. 49
Page Number:13
First Page:1
Last Page:13
Open Access: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Institutes:Medizin / Medizin
Dewey Decimal Classification:6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 61 Medizin und Gesundheit / 610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0