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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
E-pub ahead of print

Language deficits in specific language impairment, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and autism spectrum disorder: An analysis of polygenic risk

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Language is one of the cognitive domains often impaired across many neurodevelopmental disorders. While for some disorders the linguistic deficit is the primary impairment (e.g., specific language impairment, SLI), for others it may accompany broader behavioral problems (e.g., autism). The precise nature of this phenotypic overlap has been the subject of debate. Moreover, several studies have found genetic overlaps across neurodevelopmental disorders. This raises the question of whether these genetic overlaps may correlate with phenotypic overlaps and, if so, in what manner. Here, we apply a genome-wide approach to the study of the linguistic deficit in SLI, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Using a discovery genome-wide association study of SLI, we generate polygenic risk scores (PRS) in an independent sample which includes children with language impairment, SLI, ASD or ADHD and age-matched controls and perform regression analyses across groups. The SLI-trained PRS significantly predicted risk in the SLI case-control group (adjusted R 2 = 6.24%; P = 0.024) but not in the ASD or ADHD case-control groups (adjusted R 2 = 0.0004%, 0.01%; P = 0.984, 0.889, respectively) nor for height, used as a negative control (R 2 = 0.2%; P = 0.452). Additionally, there was a significant difference in the normalized PRS between children with SLI and children with ASD (common language effect size = 0.66; P = 0.044). Our study suggests no additive common-variant genetic overlap between SLI and ASD and ADHD. This is discussed in the context of phenotypic studies of SLI and related disorders. Autism Res 2019. © The Authors. Autism Research published by International Society for Autism Research published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. LAY SUMMARY: Language deficits are characteristic of specific language impairment (SLI), but may also be found in other neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Many studies examined the overlaps and differences across the language deficits in these disorders, but few studies have examined the genetic aspect thereof. In this study, we use a genome-wide approach to evaluate whether common genetic variants increasing risk of SLI may also be associated with ASD and ADHD in the same manner. Our results suggest that this is not the case, and we discuss this finding in the context of theories concerning the etiologies of these disorders.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAutism Research
Number of pages12
ISSN1939-3792
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Oct 2019

    Research areas

  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, genome-wide association study, polygenic risk score, specific language impairment

ID: 58227791