Changchun He, Huafu Chen, Lucina Q Uddin, Asier Erramuzpe, Paolo Bonifazi, Xiaonan Guo, Jinming Xiao, Heng Chen, Xinyue Huang, Lei Li, Wei Sheng, Wei Liao, Jesus M Cortes, and Xujun Duan. Structure-Function Connectomics Reveals Aberrant Developmental Trajectory Occurring at Preadolescence in the Autistic Brain. Cerebral Cortex 30: 5028–5037, 2020 [pdf]
Accumulating neuroimaging evidence shows that age estimation obtained from brain connectomics reflects the level of brain maturation along with neural development. It is well known that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) alters neurodevelopmental trajectories of brain connectomics, but the precise relationship between chronological age (ChA) and brain connectome age (BCA) during development in ASD has not been addressed. This study uses neuroimaging data collected from 50 individuals with ASD and 47 age- and gender-matched typically developing controls (TDCs; age range: 5–18 years). Both functional and structural connectomics were assessed using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging and diffusion tensor imaging data from the Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange repository. For each participant, BCA was estimated from structure–function connectomics through linear support vector regression. We found that BCA matched well with ChA in TDC children and adolescents, but not in ASD. In particular, our findings revealed that individuals with ASD exhibited accelerated brain maturation in youth, followed by a delay in brain development starting at preadolescence. Our results highlight the critical role of BCA in understanding aberrant developmental trajectories in ASD and provide new insights into the pathophysiological mechanisms of this disorder.