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Mol Autism. 2018 Apr 13;9:26. doi: 10.1186/s13229-018-0212-x. eCollection 2018.

EU-AIMS Longitudinal European Autism Project (LEAP): the autism twin cohort.

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1Department of Women's and Children's Health, Division of Neuropsychiatry Unit, Center of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (KIND), Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
2Department of Neuroscience, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Unit, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.
3Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Center for Psychiatry Research, Stockholm County Council, Stockholm, Sweden.
4Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
5Sackler Institute for Translational Neurodevelopment, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College, London, UK.
6Department of Forensic and Neurodevelopmental Sciences, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College, London, UK.
Roche Pharma Research and Early Development, Neuroscience, Ophthalmology and Rare Diseases, Roche Innovation Center Basel, Basel, Switzerland.
8Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Stockholm County Council, Stockholm, Sweden.


EU-AIMS is the largest European research program aiming to identify stratification biomarkers and novel interventions for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Within the program, the Longitudinal European Autism Project (LEAP) has recruited and comprehensively phenotyped a rare sample of 76 monozygotic and dizygotic twins, discordant, or concordant for ASD plus 30 typically developing twins. The aim of this letter is to complete previous descriptions of the LEAP case-control sample, clinically characterize, and investigate the suitability of the sample for ASD twin-control analyses purposes and share some 'lessons learnt.' Among the twins, a diagnosis of ASD is associated with increased symptom levels of ADHD, higher rates of intellectual disability, and lower family income. For the future, we conclude that the LEAP twin cohort offers multiple options for analyses of genetic and shared and non-shared environmental factors to generate new hypotheses for the larger cohort of LEAP singletons, but particularly cross-validate and refine evidence from it.


ADHD; Autism spectrum disorder; Biomarkers; Brain; Cognition; Europe; Genetics; Intervention; Twins

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Conflict of interest statement

JKB has been in the past 3 years a consultant to/member of advisory board of and/or speaker for Janssen Cilag BV, Eli Lilly, Lundbeck, Shire, Roche, Medice, Novartis, and Servier. He has received research support from Roche and Vifor. He is not an employee of any of these companies and not a stock shareholder of any of these companies. He has no other financial or material support, including expert testimony, patents, and royalties. WS is employee at F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. SB has in the last 3 years acted as an author, consultant, or lecturer for Shire, Medice, Roche, Eli Lilly, Prima Psychiatry, GLGroup, System Analytic, Kompetento, Expo Medica, Prophase, and receives royalties for text books and diagnostic tools from Huber/Hogrefe, Kohlhammer, and UTB. Also within the LEAP group: DB serves as an unpaid scientific advisor for an EU-funded Neurofeedback trial unrelated to the present work. LH, JH, PG, and XLD are employees at F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. GP is an employee at Janssen. AML has received consultant fees and travel expenses from Alexza Pharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Defined Health, Decision Resources, Desitin Arzneimittel, Elsevier, F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Gerson Lehrman Group, Grupo Ferrer, Les Laboratoires Servier, Lilly Deutschland, Lundbeck Foundation, Outcome Sciences, Outcome Europe, PriceSpective, and Roche Pharma and has received speaker’s fees from Abbott, AstraZeneca, BASF, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen-Cilag, Lundbeck, Pfizer Pharma, and Servier Deutschland. TB has served in an advisory or consultancy role for Actelion, Hexal Pharma, Lilly, Medice, Novartis, Oxford outcomes, Otsuka, PCM scientific, Shire, and Viforpharma. He received conference support or speaker’s fee by Medice, Novartis, and Shire. He is/has been involved in clinical trials conducted by Shire and Viforpharma. He received royalties from Hogrefe, Kohlhammer, CIP Medien, and Oxford University Press. The present work is unrelated to the above grants and relationships.Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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