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Front Psychiatry. 2018 May 29;9:216. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00216. eCollection 2018.

White Matter Features Associated With Autistic Traits in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

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Research Center for Child Mental Development, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan.
Department of Radiology, Chiba University Hospital, Chiba, Japan.
Department of Psychiatry, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan.
Department of Cognitive Behavioral Physiology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is among the most debilitating psychiatric disorders. Comorbid autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or autistic traits may impair treatment response in OCD. To identify possible neurostructural deficits underlying autistic traits, we performed white matter tractography on diffusion tensor images (DTI) and assessed autistic trait severity using the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ) in 33 OCD patients. Correlations between AQ and the DTI parameters, fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), axial diffusivity (AD), and radial diffusivity (RD) were examined in major white matter tracts that were suggested to be altered in previous OCD studies. We found a negative correlation between AQ and FA and positive correlations between AQ and MD, AD and RD in the left uncinate fasciculus using age, Beck Depression Inventory, Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale, intelligence quotient and medication as covariates. However, we could not detect the significant results between AQ and all DTI parameters when adding gender as a covariate. In addition, in the ASD comorbid group, FA in the left uncinate fasciculus was significantly lower than in the non-ASD comorbid group and MD and RD were significantly higher than in the non-ASD group. These results did not survive correction for multiple comparisons. In ASD, the socio-emotional dysfunction is suggested to be related to the alteration of white matter microstructure in uncinate fasciculus. Our results suggest that variations in white matter features of the left uncinate fasciculus might be partly explained by autistic traits encountered in OCD patients.


Autism-Spectrum Quotient; autism spectrum disorder; diffusion tensor imaging; left uncinate fasciculus; obsessive-compulsive disorder; white matter tracts

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