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Cortical surface architecture endophenotype and correlates of clinical diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder

By Bun Yamagata, Takashi Itahashi, Junya Fujino, Haruhisa Ohta, Osamu Takashio, Motoaki Nakamura, Nobumasa Kato, Masaru Mimura, Ryu-ichiro Hashimoto, Yuta Aoki

Posted 11 Mar 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/573527 (published DOI: 10.1111/pcn.12854)

Aim: Prior structural MRI studies demonstrated atypical gray matter characteristics in siblings of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, they did not clarify which aspect of gray matter presents the endophenotype. Further, because they did not enroll siblings of TD people, they underestimated the difference between individuals with ASD and their unaffected siblings. The current study aimed to solve these questions. Methods: We recruited 30 pairs of adult male siblings (15 of them have an ASD endophenotype, other 15 pairs not) and focused on four gray matter parameters: cortical volume and three surface-based parameters (cortical thickness, fractal dimension, and sulcal depth [SD]). First, we sought to identify a pattern of an ASD endophenotype, comparing the four parameters. Then, we compared individuals with ASD and their unaffected siblings in the cortical parameters to identify neural correlates for the clinical diagnosis accounting for the difference between TD siblings. Results: A sparse logistic regression with a leave-one-pair-out cross-validation showed the highest accuracy for the identification of an ASD endophenotype (73.3%) with the SD compared with the other three parameters. A bootstrapping analysis accounting for the difference in the SD between TD siblings showed a significantly large difference between individuals with ASD and their unaffected siblings in six out of 68 regions-of-interest accounting for multiple comparisons. Conclusions: This proof-of-concept study suggests that an ASD endophenotype emerges in SD and that neural correlates for the clinical diagnosis can be dissociated from the endophenotype when we accounted for the difference between TD siblings.

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