Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) and Angelman syndrome (AS) are neurodevelopmental disorders that are caused by abnormal expression of imprinted genes in the 15q11-13 region. Dysregulation of genes located in this region has been proposed as a susceptibility factor for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in both disorders.
This study aimed to explore symptoms of ASD in 25 PWS and 19 AS individuals aged between 1 and 39 years via objective assessment. Participants completed the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-2nd Edition (ADOS-2) and a developmentally or age-appropriate intellectual functioning assessment. All participants had their genetic diagnosis confirmed using DNA methylation analysis and microarray testing of copy number changes within the 15q11-13 region.
Participants with PWS had significantly higher overall and social affect calibrated severity scores (CSS) on the ADOS-2 compared to AS participants (p = .0055 and .0015, respectively), but the two groups did not differ significantly on CSS for the repetitive and restricted behaviour domain.
PWS cases presented with greater symptoms associated with ASD compared to individuals with AS. Mental health issues associated with PWS may contribute to elevated symptoms of ASD, particularly in adolescents and adults with PWS.