A growing body of literature has identified volume alterations of the corpus callosum (CC) in subjects with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). However, to date very few investigations have been conducted on pre-school-age ASD children. This study aims to compare the volume of CC and its sub-regions between pre-schoolers with ASD and controls (CON) and to examine their relationship to demographic and clinical variables (sex, age, non-verbal IQ -NVIQ-, expressive non-echolalic language, emotional and behavioural problems, and autism severity). The volume of CC of 40 pre-schoolers with ASD (20 males and 20 females; mean age: 49 ± 12 months; mean NVIQ: 73 ± 22) and 40 sex-, age-, and NVIQ-matched CON subjects (20 M and 20 F; mean age: 49 ± 14 months; mean NVIQ: 73 ± 23) were quantified applying the FreeSurfer automated parcellation software on Magnetic Resonance images. No significant volumetric differences in CC total volume and in its sub-regions between ASD and CON were found using total brain volume as a covariate. Analogously, absence of CC volumetric differences was evident when boys and girls with ASD were compared with their matched controls. The CC total volume of younger ASD male subjects was found significantly larger with respect to matched CON, which is consistent with the atypical growth trajectory widely reported in these young children. The CC total volume was negatively correlated with autism severity, whereas no association between CC volume and other clinical variables was detected. If replicated, the indirect relationship between CC volume and autism severity suggests the involvement of CC in core ASD symptoms.
- Journal Article