Advanced paternal age effects in neurodevelopmental disorders-review of potential underlying mechanisms

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Multiple epidemiological studies suggest a relationship between advanced paternal age (APA) at conception and adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes in offspring, particularly with regard to increased risk for autism and schizophrenia. Conclusive evidence about how age-related changes in paternal gametes, or age-independent behavioral traits affect neural development is still lacking. Recent evidence suggests that the origins of APA effects are likely to be multidimensional, involving both inherited predisposition and de novo events. Here we provide a review of the epidemiological and molecular findings to date. Focusing on the latter, we present the evidence for genetic and epigenetic mechanisms underpinning the association between late fatherhood and disorder in offspring. We also discuss the limitations of the APA literature. We propose that different hypotheses relating to the origins of the APA effects are not mutually exclusive. Instead, multiple mechanisms likely contribute, reflecting the etiological complexity of neurodevelopmental disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1019
JournalTranslational psychiatry
Issue number1
Early online date31 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2017


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