Behavioral and psychiatric manifestations in Cornelia de Lange syndrome

Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2017 Mar;30(2):92-96. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000311.


Purpose of review: Cornelia de Lange syndrome (CdLS) is a rare genetic syndrome with clinical manifestations due to multiple affected organ systems including limbs, gastrointestinal, skin, and central nervous systems. Although the genetic basis of CdLS is now uncovered, how behavioral manifestations are associated with genetic and brain differences are less well understood. The current focused review systematically describes the main behavioral observations to date in individuals with CdLS, which have a significant impact on quality of life and adaptive functioning.

Recent findings: The CdLS behavioral phenotype includes autistic traits as a prominent feature; however, brain imaging studies, required to understand gene-brain-behavior connections in CdLS, are scarce. Moreover, autistic features in CdLS have a greater emphasis on repetitive behaviors, including self-injurious behaviors (SIB) and expressive communication deficits, different that the core social deficit seen in idiopathic autism. Current data strongly support the use of CdLS as a model disease for repetitive behaviors and associated developmental delay manifestations.

Summary: Behavioral phenotype characteristics in CdLS point to a preponderance of repetitive clinical phenomena as well as expressive verbal deficits that ought to inform specific treatment approaches in CdLS. In particular, repetitive behaviors associated with self-injury are of high negative impact on the quality of life for individuals with CdLS and their families. Treatment approaches geared to manage repetitive behaviors and self-injurious behaviors in CdLS are required in this developmental condition.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / diagnosis
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / psychology
  • Child
  • De Lange Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • De Lange Syndrome / psychology*
  • Developmental Disabilities / diagnosis
  • Developmental Disabilities / psychology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Language Development Disorders / diagnosis
  • Language Development Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / diagnosis
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / psychology
  • Stereotyped Behavior