Perspective Biological Markers for Autism Spectrum Disorders: Advantages of the Use of Receiver Operating Characteristic Curves in Evaluating Marker Sensitivity and Specificity

Provvidenza M. Abruzzo, Alessandro Ghezzo, Alessandra Bolotta, Carla Ferreri, Renato Minguzzi, Arianna Vignini, Paola Visconti, Marina Marini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are a heterogeneous group of neurodevelopmental disorders. Recognized causes of ASD include genetic factors, metabolic diseases, toxic and environmental factors, and a combination of these. Available tests fail to recognize genetic abnormalities in about 70% of ASD children, where diagnosis is solely based on behavioral signs and symptoms, which are difficult to evaluate in very young children. Although it is advisable that specific psychotherapeutic and pedagogic interventions are initiated as early as possible, early diagnosis is hampered by the lack of nongenetic specific biological markers. In the past ten years, the scientific literature has reported dozens of neurophysiological and biochemical alterations in ASD children; however no real biomarker has emerged. Such literature is here reviewed in the light of Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) analysis, a very valuable statistical tool, which evaluates the sensitivity and the specificity of biomarkers to be used in diagnostic decision making. We also apply ROC analysis to some of our previously published data and discuss the increased diagnostic value of combining more variables in one ROC curve analysis. We also discuss the use of biomarkers as a tool for advancing our understanding of nonsyndromic ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number329607
JournalDisease Markers
Volume2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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