Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder with unknown brain etiology. Our knowledge to date about structural brain development across the lifespan in ASD comes mainly from cross-sectional studies, thereby limiting our understanding of true age effects within individuals with the disorder that can only be gained through longitudinal research. The present study describes FreeSurfer-derived volumetric findings from a longitudinal dataset consisting of 607 T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans collected from 105 male individuals with ASD (349 MRIs) and 125 typically developing male controls (258 MRIs). Participants were six to forty-five years of age at their first scan, and were scanned up to 5 times over a period of 16 years (average inter-scan interval of 3.7 years). Atypical age-related volumetric trajectories in ASD included enlarged gray matter volume in early childhood that approached levels of the control group by late childhood, an age-related increase in ventricle volume resulting in enlarged ventricles by early adulthood and reduced corpus callosum age-related volumetric increase resulting in smaller corpus callosum volume in adulthood. Larger corpus callosum volume was related to a lower (better) ADOS score at the most recent study visit for the participants with ASD. These longitudinal findings expand our knowledge of volumetric brain-based abnormalities in males with ASD, and highlight the need to continue to examine brain structure across the lifespan and well into adulthood.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.