02 Apr Susceptibility to Autism May Be Detectable by Fetal MRI
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Alpen ORTUĞ, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Massachusetts General Hospital
Department of Radiology
Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Finding the earliest diagnosis possible for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is one of the main goals for researchers studying ASD. This study aimed to investigate the critical abnormalities in prenatal brain development in ASD using structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We hypothesized that volumetric analyses of brain segmentations are useful to identify such abnormalities before birth. We have retrospectively analyzed fetal MRI based on the knowledge that the same individuals were later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. We have evaluated developmental abnormalities in brain structures of prospective ASD fetuses using volumetric segmentation.
The current study is still preliminary, but the ‘insula’ of the brain showed statistically significant volumetric enlargement in prospective ASD patients, compared to the other three control groups.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: This study was the first attempt to semi-automatically segment brain regions in the fetal period of subjects that are going to develop autism spectrum disorder later in life. It is possible to track the differences back in the developmental period to help to predict the susceptibility of having autism spectrum disorder.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: There were some limitations in our study due to its retrospective nature. However, collaborative studies with an increased number of subjects will reveal significant results in terms of early MRI-based biomarkers of ASD
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: I would like to thank our co-authors in the study, the Computational Radiology Laboratory at Boston Children’s Hospital for the open-source Fetal Brain Atlas1, and Children’s Research and Integration System (CHRIS)2 which we used for our retrospective collection of the clinical MRI.
- Gholipour, A., et al. 2017. A normative spatiotemporal MRI atlas of the fetal brain for automatic segmentation and analysis of early brain growth, Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 476
- Pienaar, R., et al. 2015. ChRIS- A web-based neuroimaging and informatics system for collecting, organizing, processing, visualizing and sharing of medical data, 2015 37th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC). 25-29 Aug. 2015
Ortug A, Guo Y, Ou Y, Baumer NT, Kaminski Faja S, Takahashi E. Human Fetal Brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Tells Future Emergence of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Abstract 368.3. Experimental Biology conference 2022. April 2-5 2022. Pennsylvania, US.
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