White matter microstructural abnormalities in children with severe congenital hypothyroidism.
This study assessed white matter microstructural integrity and behavioral correlates for children with severe congenital hypothyroidism (CH) who were identified and treated early following newborn screening. Eighteen children with severe CH and 21 healthy controls underwent a battery of behavioral measures of hearing, language and communication, along with diffusion MR imaging. Tract-based spatial statistics were performed on standard diffusion parameters of fractional anisotropy and diffusivity metrics. Microscopic diffusion anisotropy mapping based on the Spherical Mean Technique was also used to evaluate biologically specific metrics. Compared with age-matched controls, children with severe CH had poorer hearing and communication skills, albeit generally within normal limits. Children with severe CH had fractional anisotropy that was significantly lower in the cerebellum, bilateral thalami and right temporal lobe, and radial diffusivity that was significantly higher in the cerebellum and bilateral thalami. Microscopic fractional anisotropy and intra-neurite volume fraction were also significantly decreased, and transverse microscopic diffusivity was significantly increased, in the CH group in areas including the cerebellum, thalamus, occipital lobe, and corpus callosum, and in the white matter adjacent to sensorimotor cortex, particularly in the left hemisphere. Significant and widespread correlations were observed between behavioral measures and measures of white matter microstructural integrity in children with CH. The results indicate that children with severe CH who are identified through newborn screening may have significant brain white matter microstructural abnormalities despite early treatment.