Age-related changes of white matter association tracts in normal children throughout adulthood: a diffusion tensor tractography study
The aim of this study is to study the age, gender and lateral asymmetry-related white matter changes of long association tracts throughout late childhood and adolescence into adulthood using diffusion tensor tractography (DTT).
DTT was performed in 44 healthy subjects aged 7–45 years. Fractional anisotropy (FA), radial diffusivity (RD), axial diffusivity (AD), Trace, density and volume were calculated for long association tracts, namely the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF), inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF), uncinate fasciculus, superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF) and its arcuate fibres. FA and diffusivity indices were correlated as function of age using Pearson correlation test. Comparison between males and females, and comparison between both hemispheres among all participants were also performed. A p value less than .01 was considered significant.
The majority of the examined tracts (SLF and IFOF of both hemispheres, and the arcuate fasciculus, uncinate fasciculus, and ILF of the left hemisphere) followed a common pattern of metric changes with age. This pattern was characterized by significant FA increase accompanied by reduction in RD, Trace without significant AD changes. The right arcuate fasciculus showed similar pattern but without significant FA changes. The right uncinate and right ILF fasciculus demonstrated significant reduction in RD, Trace and AD, with and without significant FA increase, respectively. Left hemispheric dominance regarding the FA and diffusivity indices was demonstrated in uncinate fasciculus with no significant gender-related differences.
Significant microstructural tract-specific maturation processes continue throughout late childhood into adulthood. These processes may represent stages in a cascade of age-related maturation in white matter microstructure.
KeywordsAxial diffusivity Radial diffusivity Maturation patterns Diffusion tensor imaging Fractional anisotropy
The authors would like to thank Prof. Dr. Moustafa El Houssinie, Professor of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Ain-Shams University, for the helpful discussions on statistical issues related to this paper.
Compliance with ethical standards
No funding was received for this study.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in the studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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