DOI: 10.3390/genes15010061 ISSN: 2073-4425

Autism Spectrum Disorder with Epilepsy: A Research Protocol for a Clinical and Genetic Study

Roberto Canitano, Yuri Bozzi
  • Genetics (clinical)
  • Genetics

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a common neurodevelopmental condition affecting ~1% of people worldwide. Core ASD features present with impaired social communication abilities, repetitive and stereotyped behaviors, and atypical sensory responses and are often associated with a series of comorbidities. Among these, epilepsy is frequently observed. The co-occurrence of ASD and epilepsy is currently thought to result from common abnormal neurodevelopmental pathways, including an imbalanced excitation/inhibition ratio. However, the pathological mechanisms involved in ASD-epilepsy co-morbidity are still largely unknown. Here, we propose a research protocol aiming to investigate electrophysiological and genetic features in subjects with ASD and epilepsy. This study will include a detailed electroencephalographic (EEG) and blood transcriptomic characterization of subjects with ASD with and without epilepsy. The combined approach of EEG and transcriptomic studies in the same subjects will contribute to a novel stratification paradigm of the heterogeneous ASD population based on quantitative gene expression and neurophysiological biomarkers. In addition, our protocol has the potential to indicate new therapeutic options, thus amending the current condition of absence of data and guidelines for the treatment of ASD with epilepsy.

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