Cluster analysis of autistic patients based on principal pathogenetic components

Roberto Sacco, Carlo Lenti, Monica Saccani, Paolo Curatolo, Barbara Manzi, Carmela Bravaccio, Antonio M. Persico

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have recently described four principal pathogenetic components in autism: (I) circadian and sensory dysfunction, (II) immune abnormalities, (III) neurodevelopmental delay, and (IV) stereotypic behaviors. Using hierarchical and k-means clustering, the same 245 patients assessed in our principal component analysis can be partitioned into four clusters: (a) 43 (17.6%) have prominent immune abnormalities accompanied by some circadian and sensory issues; (b) 44 (18.0%) display major circadian and sensory dysfunction, with little or no immune symptoms; (c) stereotypies predominate in 75 (31.0%); and (d) 83 (33.9%) show a mixture of all four components, with greater disruptive behaviors and mental retardation. The "immune" component provides the largest contributions to phenotypic variance (P = 2.7 × 10-45), followed by "stereotypic behaviors." These patient clusters may likely differ in genetic and immune underpinnings, developmental trajectories, and response to treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-147
Number of pages11
JournalAutism Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


  • Cluster analysis
  • Immune system
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Pervasive developmental disorders
  • Principal component analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Medicine(all)


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