School of Medicine Publications and Presentations

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Background: It has long been recognized that there is an association between enlarged head circumference (HC) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but the genetics of HC in ASD is not well understood. In order to investigate the genetic underpinning of HC in ASD, we undertook a genome-wide linkage study of HC followed by linkage signal targeted association among a sample of 67 extended pedigrees with ASD.

Methods: HC measurements on members of 67 multiplex ASD extended pedigrees were used as a quantitative trait in a genome-wide linkage analysis. The Illumina 6K SNP linkage panel was used, and analyses were carried out using the SOLAR implemented variance components model. Loci identified in this way formed the target for subsequent association analysis using the Illumina OmniExpress chip and imputed genotypes. A modification of the qTDT was used as implemented in SOLAR.

Results: We identified a linkage signal spanning 6p21.31 to 6p22.2 (maximum LOD = 3.4). Although targeted association did not find evidence of association with any SNP overall, in one family with the strongest evidence of linkage, there was evidence for association (rs17586672, p = 1.72E-07).

Conclusions: Although this region does not overlap with ASD linkage signals in these same samples, it has been associated with other psychiatric risk, including ADHD, developmental dyslexia, schizophrenia, specific language impairment, and juvenile bipolar disorder. The genome-wide significant linkage signal represents the first reported observation of a potential quantitative trait locus for HC in ASD and may be relevant in the context of complex multivariate risk likely leading to ASD.


Copyright © The Author(s). 2017

Publication Title

Journal of neurodevelopmental disorders



Academic Level


Mentor/PI Department

Office of Human Genetics



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