Impact of on-site clinical genetics consultations on diagnostic rate in children and young adults with autism spectrum disorder.

Munnich A, Demily C, Frugère L, Duwime C, Malan V, Barcia G, Vidal C, Throo E, Besmond C, Hubert L, Roland-Manuel G, Malen JP, Ferreri M, Hanein S, Thalabard JC, Boddaert N, Assouline M.

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Mol Autism

2020 Mar 2

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Background: Neurogenetics investigations and diagnostic yield in patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have significantly improved over the last few years. Yet, many patients still fail to be systematically investigated.

Methods: To improve access to services, an ambulatory team has been established since 1998, delivering on-site clinical genetics consultations and gradually upgrading services to 502 children and young adults with ASD in their standard environment across 26 day-care hospitals and specialized institutions within the Greater Paris region. The evaluation included a clinical genetics consultation, screening for fragile X syndrome, metabolic workup, chromosomal microarray analysis, and, in a proportion of patients, next-generation sequencing of genes reported in ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Results: Fragile X syndrome and pathogenic copy number variants (CNVs) accounted for the disease in 10% of cases, including 4/312 (1.3%) with fragile X syndrome and 34/388 (8.8%) with pathogenic CNVs (19 de novo and 4 inherited). Importantly, adding high-throughput resequencing of reported intellectual disability/ASD genes to the screening procedure had a major impact on diagnostic yield in the 141 patients examined most recently. Pathogenic or likely pathogenic sequence variants in 27 disease genes were identified in 33/141 patients (23.4%; 23 were de novo and 10 inherited, including five X-linked and five recessive compound heterozygous variants). Diagnosed cases presented atypical and/or syndromic ASD with moderate to severe intellectual disability. The diagnostic yield of fragile X syndrome and array CGH testing combined with next-generation sequencing was significantly higher than fragile X syndrome and array CGH alone (p value 0.009). No inborn errors of metabolism were detected with the metabolic screening.

Conclusion: Based on the diagnostic rate observed in this cohort, we suggest that a stepwise procedure be considered, first screening pathogenic CNVs and a limited number of disease genes in a much larger number of patients, especially those with syndromic ASD and intellectual disability.

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