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Both Hypo-Connectivity and Hyper-Connectivity of the Insular Subregions Associated With Severity in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Front Neurosci. 2018;12:234

Authors: Xu J, Wang H, Zhang L, Xu Z, Li T, Zhou Z, Zhou Z, Gan Y, Hu Q

Some studies identified hypo-connectivity, while others showed hyper-connectivity of the insula in the autism spectrum disorders (ASD). These contradictory findings leave open the question of whether and to what extent functional connectivity of the insula is altered and how functional connectivity of the insula is associated with the severity of ASD. A newly emerging insular atlas that comprises multiple functionally differentiated subregions provides a new framework to interpret the functional significance of insular findings and uncover the mechanisms underlying the severity of ASD. Using the new insular atlas, the present study aimed to investigate the distinct functional connectivity of the insular subregions and their associations with ASD severity in a cohort of 49 children with ASD and 33 typically developing (TD) subjects. We found that compared with TD group, the ASD group showed different connectivity patterns in the left ventral agranular insula, right ventral dysgranular and granular insula, and dorsal dysgranular insula, characterized by significant hyper-connectivity and/or hypo-connectivity with special brain regions. Furthermore, both the hypo-connectivity and hyper-connectivity patterns of the insular subregions were significantly associated with the severity of ASD symptoms. Our research demonstrated distinct functional connectivity patterns of the insular subregions and emphasized the importance of the subdivisions within the insula to the potential impact of functional difference in children with ASD. Moreover, these results might help us to better understand the mechanisms underlying the symptoms in children with ASD and might elucidate potential biomarkers for clinical applications.

PMID: 29695950 [PubMed]

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