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Parental Broader Autism Subphenotypes in ASD Affected Families: Relationship to Gender, Child's Symptoms, SSRI Treatment, and Platelet Serotonin


  • This work was supported in part by NIH Autism Center of Excellence P50 HD055751 (EHC) and K23MH082121 (SJ).


Relationships between parental broader autism phenotype (BAP) scores, gender, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) treatment, serotonin (5HT) levels, and the child's symptoms were investigated in a family study of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The Broader Autism Phenotype Questionnaire (BAPQ) was used to measure the BAP of 275 parents. Fathers not taking SSRIs (F-SSRI; n = 115) scored significantly higher on BAP Total and Aloof subscales compared to mothers not receiving treatment (M-SSRI; n = 136.) However, mothers taking SSRIs (M + SSRI; n = 19) scored higher than those not taking medication on BAP Total and Rigid subscales, and they were more likely to be BAPQ Total, Aloof, and Rigid positive. Significant correlations were noted between proband autism symptoms and parental BAPQ scores such that Total, Aloof, and Rigid subscale scores of F-SSRI correlated with proband restricted repetitive behavior (RRB) measures on the ADOS, CRI, and RBS-R. However, only the Aloof subscale score of M + SSRI correlated with proband RRB on the ADOS. The correlation between the BAPQ scores of mothers taking SSRIs and child scores, as well as the increase in BAPQ scores of this group of mothers, requires careful interpretation and further study because correlations would not withstand multiple corrections. As expected by previous research, significant parent–child correlations were observed for 5HT levels. However, 5HT levels were not correlated with behavioral measures. Study results suggest that the expression of the BAP varies not only across parental gender, but also across individuals using psychotropic medication and those who do not. Autism Res 2013, 6: 621–630. © 2013 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.