Investigating the Evidence of Behavioral, Cognitive, and Psychiatric Endophenotypes in Autism: A Systematic Review.
Ruparelia K., Manji K., Abubakar A., Newton CR.
Substantial evidence indicates that parents of autistic individuals often display milder forms of autistic traits referred to as the broader autism phenotype (BAP). To determine if discrete endophenotypes of autism can be identified, we reviewed the literature to assess the evidence of behavioral, cognitive, and psychiatric profiles of the BAP. A systematic review was conducted using EMBASE, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, PsycEXTRA, and Global Health. Sixty papers met our inclusion criteria and results are discussed according to the proportion of studies that yield significant deficits per domain. The behavioral, cognitive, and psychiatric endophenotypes in parents of autistic probands are still not clarified; however, evidence suggests mild social/communication deficits, rigid/aloof personality traits, and pragmatic language difficulties as the most useful sociobehavioral candidate endophenotype traits. The existence of deficits in the cognitive domain does suggest familial vulnerability for autism. Furthermore, increased depressed mood and anxiety can also be useful markers; however, findings should be interpreted with caution because of the small number of studies in such heterogeneously broad domains and several methodological limitations.