Elevated polygenic burden for ASD is associated with the broad autism phenotype

K. Nayar, J. M. Sealock, N. Maltman, L. Bush, E. H. Cook, L. K. Davis, M. Losh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a multifactorial, neurodevelopmental disorder that encompasses a complex and heterogeneous set of traits. Subclinical traits that mirror the core features of ASD, referred to as the broad autism phenotype (BAP) have been documented repeatedly in unaffected relatives and are believed to reflect underlying genetic liability to ASD. The BAP may help inform the etiology of ASD by allowing the stratification of families into more phenotypically and etiologically homogeneous subgroups. This study explored polygenic scores related to the BAP.Phenotypic and genotypic information were obtained from 2,614 trios from Simons Simplex Sample. Polygenic scores of ASD (ASD-PGS) were generated across the sample to determine the shared genetic overlap between the BAP and ASD. Maternal and Paternal ASD-PGS was explored in relation to BAP traits and their child ASD symptomatology.Maternal pragmatic language was related to child’s social communicative atypicalities. In fathers, rigid personality was related to increased repetitive behaviors in children. Maternal (but not paternal) ASD-PGS was related to the pragmatic language and rigid BAP domains.Domain- and sex-specific associations emerged between parent and child phenotypes. ASD-PGS associations emerged with BAP in mothers only, highlighting the potential for a female protective factor, and implicating the polygenic etiology of ASD-related phenotypes in the BAP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Nov 12 2019


  • broad autism phenotype
  • common genetic variation
  • endophenotype
  • Polygenic scores

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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