Association between Copy Number Variation and Response to Social Skills Training in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Sci Rep. 2019 Jul 8;9(1):9810. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-46396-1.


Challenges in social communication and interaction are core features of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) for which social skills group training (SSGT) is a commonly used intervention. SSGT has shown modest and heterogeneous effects. One of the major genetic risk factors in ASD is rare copy number variation (CNV). However, limited information exists whether CNV profiles could be used to aid intervention decisions. Here, we analyzed the rare genic CNV carrier status for 207 children, of which 105 received SSGT and 102 standard care as part of a randomized clinical trial for SSGT. We found that being a carrier of rare genic CNV did not have an impact on the SSGT outcome measured by the parent-report Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS). However, when stratifying by pathogenicity and size of the CNVs, we identified that carriers of clinically significant and large genic CNVs (>500 kb) showed inferior SRS outcomes at post-intervention (P = 0.047 and P = 0.036, respectively) and follow-up (P = 0.008 and P = 0.072, respectively) when adjusting for standard care effects. Our study provides preliminary evidence that carriers of clinically significant and large genic CNVs might not benefit as much from SSGT as non-carriers. Our results indicate that genetic information might help guide the modifications of interventions in ASD.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Pragmatic Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / genetics
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / psychology
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / therapy*
  • Child
  • Clinical Decision-Making
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • DNA Copy Number Variations*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Social Skills
  • Standard of Care
  • Treatment Outcome