Gender Differences in Language and Motor-Related Fibers in a Population of Healthy Preterm Neonates at Term-Equivalent Age: A Diffusion Tensor and Probabilistic Tractography Study.
De Maertelaer, Viviane
Van Overmeire, Bart
Van Bogaert, Patrick
KeywordsImagerie médicale, radiologie, tomographie
Neurologie du développement
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AbstractBACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:Sex differences in white matter structure are controversial. In this MR imaging study, we aimed to investigate possible sex differences in language and motor-related tracts in healthy preterm neonates by using DTI and probabilistic tractography.MATERIALS AND METHODS:Thirty-eight preterm neonates (19 boys and 19 girls, age-matched), healthy at term-equivalent age and at 12 months were included. TBV was measured individually. Probabilistic tractography provided tract volumes, relative tract volumes (volume normalized to TBV), FA, MD, and λ(⊥) in the SLF, in the TRs, and in the CSTs. Data were compared by using independent t tests, and Bonferroni corrections were performed to adjust for multiple comparisons.RESULTS:We showed that healthy preterm boys had larger TBV than girls. However, girls had statistically significantly larger relative tract volumes than boys bilaterally in the parieto-temporal SLF, and in the left CST. Moreover, in the left parieto-temporal SLF, a trend toward lower MD and λ(⊥) was observed in females.CONCLUSIONS:Structural sex differences were found in preterm neonates at term-equivalent age in both sides of the parieto-temporal SLF and in the left CST. Further studies are necessary to investigate whether these structural differences are related to later sex differences in language skills and handedness or to the effect of prematurity.