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Social and non-social autism symptoms and trait domains are genetically dissociable

Warrier, V., Toro, R., Won, H., Leblond, C. S., Cliquet, F., Delorme, R., De Witte, W., Bralten, J., Chakrabarti, B., Børglum, A. D., Grove, J., Poelmans, G., Hinds, D. A., Bourgeron, T. and Baron-Cohen, S. (2019) Social and non-social autism symptoms and trait domains are genetically dissociable. Communications Biology, 2. 328. ISSN 2399-3642

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1038/s42003-019-0558-4

Abstract/Summary

The core diagnostic criteria for autism comprise two symptom domains – social and communication difficulties, and unusually repetitive and restricted behaviour, interests and activities. There is some evidence to suggest that these two domains are dissociable, though this hypothesis has not yet been tested using molecular genetics. We test this using a genome-wide association study (N = 51,564) of a non-social trait related to autism, systemising, defined as the drive to analyse and build systems. We demonstrate that systemising is heritable and genetically correlated with autism. In contrast, we do not identify significant genetic correlations between social autistic traits and systemising. Supporting this, polygenic scores for systemising are significantly and positively associated with restricted and repetitive behaviour but not with social difficulties in autistic individuals. These findings strongly suggest that the two core domains of autism are genetically dissociable, and point at how to fractionate the genetics of autism.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (CINN)
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) Research Network
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Neuroscience
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Psychopathology and Affective Neuroscience
ID Code:86053
Publisher:Nature Research

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