Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a genetic disorder with a high prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), yet no single genetic, neurological or neurophysiological risk marker is necessary or sufficient to increase risk for ASD. This paper aims to discuss the utility of adopting a developmental perspective.
The increasing number of TSC infants presenting with abnormalities prenatally provides a unique opportunity to study risk pathways to ASD from birth. Here, the authors review findings to date that support the investigation of infants with TSC to further our understanding of typical and atypical development.
Evidence has accumulated from studies of infants at familial risk for ASD (“baby siblings”) to suggest that early markers of ASD are present in the first year of life. The early waves of prospective studies of infants with TSC indicate dynamic changes in developmental trajectories to ASD and are likely to provide insight into cascading effects of brain “insult” early in development. Emerging evidence of phenotypic and biological homology between syndromic and idiopathic cases of ASD supports the notion of a convergence of risk factors on a final common pathway in ASD.
The delineation of brain-based biomarkers of risk, prediction and treatment response in TSC will be critical in aiding the development of targeted intervention and prevention strategies for those infants at high risk of poorer developmental outcomes.
Dr Tye is supported by a Tuberous Sclerosis Association (UK) Junior Fellowship. Dr Jeste and Dr Varcin are funded by the US Department of Defense (DOD CDMRP TSCRP 20102338 and TS140030). Professor Bolton is supported by Action Medical Research, a NIHR Senior Investigator award and the Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health (BRC) at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience and the South London & Maudsley NHS Trust Hospital, London.
Tye, C., Varcin, K., Bolton, P. and Jeste, S. (2016), "Early developmental pathways to autism spectrum disorder in tuberous sclerosis complex", Advances in Autism, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp. 84-93. https://doi.org/10.1108/AIA-01-2016-0004Download as .RIS
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