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Autism research and other musings

Paul Whiteley
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  • November 26, 2014
  • 04:54 AM
  • 24 views

The gut microbiome in Down Syndrome

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The recent preliminary findings from Elena Biagi and colleagues [1] (open-access) reporting on the constitution of the gut microbiome - the collected bacteria which reside in the deepest, darkest recesses of our gastrointestinal (GI) tract - in a small number of cases of Down's syndrome caught my eye recently.It's a funny feeling being taken under the wing of a dragonPerhaps a little bit unusually looking at the gut microbiome because of the link between premature ageing in Down's syndrome ........ Read more »

Biagi E, Candela M, Centanni M, Consolandi C, Rampelli S, Turroni S, Severgnini M, Peano C, Ghezzo A, Scurti M.... (2014) Gut Microbiome in Down Syndrome. PloS one, 9(11). PMID: 25386941  

  • November 25, 2014
  • 03:20 AM
  • 37 views

Serotonin - melatonin (and the in-betweeners) linked to autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Pagan and colleagues [1] (open-access) looking at "serotonin, melatonin and the intermediate N-acetylserotonin (NAS) in a large cohort of patients with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and their relatives" set the old grey-pink matter into action recently. Not only because I have some real interest in the starting material for these compounds - the aromatic amino acid known as tryptophan - but because this research group included some quite important analysis of the enz........ Read more »

Pagan C, Delorme R, Callebert J, Goubran-Botros H, Amsellem F, Drouot X, Boudebesse C, Le Dudal K, Ngo-Nguyen N, Laouamri H.... (2014) The serotonin-N-acetylserotonin-melatonin pathway as a biomarker for autism spectrum disorders. Translational psychiatry. PMID: 25386956  

  • November 24, 2014
  • 04:29 AM
  • 43 views

Finland, parental migration and offspring Asperger syndrome

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A quote from the paper by Venla Lehti and colleagues [1] to start things off: "The study showed that children whose parents are both immigrants have a significantly lower likelihood of being diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome than those with two Finnish parents."Can I cook, or can't I?Based on an analysis of data derived from "the Finnish Hospital Discharge Register" and "the Finnish Medical Birth Register", researchers looked at the records of children with a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome (AS)........ Read more »

Lehti V, Cheslack-Postava K, Gissler M, Hinkka-Yli-Salomäki S, Brown AS, & Sourander A. (2014) Parental migration and Asperger's syndrome. European child . PMID: 25381114  

  • November 22, 2014
  • 03:26 AM
  • 55 views

Children as research participants: assessing competence

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I was brought to writing about this topic after reading an interesting post by Virginia Hughes titled: Personhood Week: Do Kids Count? Among the various points raised in that article was some discussion about minors having medical autonomy and how this might impinge on areas outside of just medical decision-making. It also reminded me about something which was raised on more than one occasion when I undertook a stint on a University Ethics committee...Most people involved in the medica........ Read more »

  • November 21, 2014
  • 05:58 AM
  • 64 views

Genomic instability not linked to autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

An eyebrow was raised upon reading the findings reported by Penelope Main and colleagues [1] concluding that: "it appears unlikely that genomic instability is a feature of the aetiology of autism." Based on results derived in part from "the cytokinesis-block micronucleus cytome (CBMN-cyt) assay" [2] looking at markers of DNA damage, authors reported very little to see in their small cohort of children with autism (n=35) compared with siblings (n=27) and asymptomatic controls (n=25) although with........ Read more »

Main PA, Thomas P, Angley MT, Young R, Esterman A, King CE, & Fenech MF. (2014) Lack of Evidence for Genomic Instability in Autistic Children as Measured by the Cytokinesis-Block Micronucleus Cytome Assay. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research. PMID: 25371234  

  • November 20, 2014
  • 05:30 AM
  • 83 views

Intestinal permeability: an emerging scientific area (also with autism in mind)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

What is the intestinal barrier? What is intestinal permeability? What factors affect the permeability of the intestinal barrier? How do you measure intestinal permeability? How might [altered] intestinal permeability link to health, well-being and various clinical diagnoses?The new triad @ Bischoff SC et al. 2014These are some of the questions tackled by the excellent open-access review by Stephan Bischoff and colleagues [1] which I would like to draw your attention to i........ Read more »

Bischoff, S., Barbara, G., Buurman, W., Ockhuizen, T., Schulzke, J., Serino, M., Tilg, H., Watson, A., & Wells, J. (2014) Intestinal permeability - a new target for disease prevention and therapy. BMC Gastroenterology, 14(1), 189. DOI: 10.1186/s12876-014-0189-7  

  • November 19, 2014
  • 04:57 AM
  • 63 views

Down Syndrome Disintegrative Disorder

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Down syndrome disintegrative disorder seems an appropriate name for this newly recognized clinical association, which may be due to autoimmunity.""Hi, everyone. I'm Olaf and I like warm hugs!"That was the bottom line of the study published by Gordon Worley and colleagues [1] reviewing a small number of cases (N=11) of children diagnosed with Down's syndrome presenting at clinic "with a history of new-onset... or worsening... autistic characteristics" among other things. Based on some potentiall........ Read more »

  • November 18, 2014
  • 04:52 AM
  • 55 views

Paediatric congenital heart disease and autism risk?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Children aged 2-17 with CHD [congenital heart disease] were more likely than those without CHD to have had a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (crude OR, 4.6; 95% CI, 1.9-11.0) or intellectual disability (Crude OR, 9.1; 95% CI, 5.4-15.4)".The traveller @ Wikipedia That was a key conclusion reported in the study by Hilda Razzaghi and colleagues [1] based on their analysis of data from "the 1997-2011 National Health Interview Survey", a US initiative which aims to pro........ Read more »

  • November 17, 2014
  • 04:41 AM
  • 72 views

Social anxiety in one in four adults with autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Twenty-eight percent (14 of 50) of individuals with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for SAD [social anxiety disorder]"."I am Vulcan, sir. We embrace technicality."So said the findings reported by Susanne Bejerot and colleagues [1] (open-access) as part of their investigations looking at SAD occurrence among adults diagnosed with ASD. Once again the sometimes very disabling issue of anxiety resurfaces with autism in mind. Before going on, I'm minde........ Read more »

Bejerot S, Eriksson JM, & Mörtberg E. (2014) Social anxiety in adult autism spectrum disorder. Psychiatry research. PMID: 25200187  

  • November 15, 2014
  • 04:40 AM
  • 89 views

Milk has gotta lotta bottle?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"High milk intake was associated with higher mortality in one cohort of women and in another cohort of men, and with higher fracture incidence in women". Those were some of the conclusions reached in the study by Karl Michaëlsson and colleagues [1] (open-access) looking at milk consumption and "mortality and fractures in women and men". The BBC among other media have covered the study (see here).Take me out tonightBased on quite a large participant group (two actually) who completed a food........ Read more »

Michaelsson, K., Wolk, A., Langenskiold, S., Basu, S., Warensjo Lemming, E., Melhus, H., & Byberg, L. (2014) Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies. BMJ, 349(oct27 1). DOI: 10.1136/bmj.g6015  

  • November 14, 2014
  • 04:40 AM
  • 105 views

One fifth of schizophrenia cases linked to Toxoplasma gondii?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The PAF [population attributable fraction] for schizophrenia in those exposed to T. gondii is tentatively 21.4%". That was the headline conclusion made by Prof. Gary Smith [1] in his modelling analysis estimating what percentage of cases of schizophrenia might involve the protozoan Toxoplasma gondii. Some of the accompanying media about this potentially very important finding can be found here and here.You don't need to study scaring, you just do it.Although no expert on the PAF - defined as [2........ Read more »

  • November 13, 2014
  • 04:45 AM
  • 93 views

More gluten sensitivity and schizophrenia

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Dude means a regular sort of person..."Our study in 100 people with schizophrenia compared to 100 matched controls replicates a higher prevalence of gluten sensitivity and higher mean antigliadin IgG antibody levels [in] schizophrenia".So said one of the conclusions of the paper by Jessica Jackson and colleagues [1] as the results further stack up implicating immune function and diet in relation to at least some cases of schizophrenia. That being said, researchers did not find any "rob........ Read more »

Jackson J, Eaton W, Cascella N, Fasano A, Santora D, Sullivan K, Feldman S, Raley H, McMahon RP, Carpenter WT Jr.... (2014) Gluten sensitivity and relationship to psychiatric symptoms in people with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia research. PMID: 25311778  

  • November 12, 2014
  • 04:53 AM
  • 77 views

An inflammatory autism subtype?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper from Hiram Jyonouchi and colleagues [1] (open-access) continues a theme from this author with their suggestion of "an imbalance in the production of inflammatory (IL-1ß and IL-6) and counterregulatory (IL-10) cytokines by ‘flare’ ASD-IS [autism spectrum disorder - inflammatory subtype] monocytes".Panic on the streets of Birmingham...'Flare' ASD-IS in this case refers to a coding given to a small participant group (n=24) who were: "defined as those with a history of ........ Read more »

  • November 11, 2014
  • 04:50 AM
  • 330 views

Psychiatric comorbidity in post H1N1 vaccination narcolespy?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I can imagine that the paper by Atilla Szakács and colleagues [1] is likely to draw some rather differing opinions about potential importance based on their subject matter and methods/participant numbers looking at the frequency of psychiatric comorbidity among those with narcolepsy including narcolepsy post H1N1 vaccination. The fact that autism - "pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (i.e., atypical autism)" - is mentioned as one of the comorbidity in the post-vaccination ........ Read more »

  • November 10, 2014
  • 03:01 AM
  • 78 views

Metabolomics and autism: the continuing search for biomarkers

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm always a happy bunny when some of my own research findings receive something like independent replication. So it was when I read the monster paper from Paul West and colleagues [1] (open-access) reporting results based on not one, not two, not three, not even four, but five mass spectrometric methods looking for potential biomarkers for autism. Metabolomics in action (see here for an introduction to this topic).Rosina @ Wikipedia The particular reason for my excitement was the........ Read more »

  • November 8, 2014
  • 04:51 AM
  • 86 views

UK Millennium Cohort Study: School and the disabled child

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Quite recently the BBC News online ran with the headline: "Disabled children's behaviour 'deteriorates at school'". The story revolved around the findings reported by Rebecca Fauth and colleagues [1] (open-access) looking at "the extent to which the associations between disability and behaviour are linked to children’s developmental stage and thus may be ‘grown out of’ as children enter school and move out of the early years". I should add that, at the time of writing, the Fauth paper is d........ Read more »

Connelly R, & Platt L. (2014) Cohort Profile: UK Millennium Cohort Study (MCS). International journal of epidemiology. PMID: 24550246  

  • November 7, 2014
  • 04:11 AM
  • 130 views

Treating depression: exercise or anti-inflammatory meds?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Reiterating my primary caveat on this blog about not giving anything that looks, sounds or smells like medical and/or clinical advice, I'm bringing three papers to the research blogging table today, all published in the JAMA journal family and all talking about depression / depressive symptoms.See my hat... @ Wikipedia First up is the paper by Ole Köhler and colleagues [1] reviewing "the antidepressant and possible adverse effects of anti-inflammatory interventions". Some media i........ Read more »

Ole Köhler, Michael E. Benros, Merete Nordentoft, Michael E. Farkouh, Rupa L. Iyengar, Ole Mors, & Jesper Krogh. (2014) Effect of Anti-inflammatory Treatment on Depression, Depressive Symptoms, and Adverse Effects. JAMA Psychiatry. info:/doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.1611

Snehal M. Pinto Pereira, Marie-Claude Geoffroy, & Christine Power. (2014) Depressive Symptoms and Physical Activity During 3 Decades in Adult Life. JAMA Psychiatry. info:/doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.1240

Toseeb, U., Brage, S., Corder, K., Dunn, V., Jones, P., Owens, M., St Clair, M., van Sluijs, E., & Goodyer, I. (2014) Exercise and Depressive Symptoms in Adolescents. JAMA Pediatrics. DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.1794  

  • November 6, 2014
  • 04:30 AM
  • 79 views

Neurotensin, autism and tail-chasing Bull Terrriers?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm not kidding.The paper by Tsilioni and colleagues [1] (open-access) did indeed look at serum levels of neurotensin and corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) in a cohort of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) alongside levels in tail-chasing Bull Terrier dogs as compared to unaffected [non tail-chasing] Bull Terriers (BTs) and Labrador Retriever dogs. You may well smirk or even laugh at such research but, as per the recent [preliminary] broccoli chemical - autis........ Read more »

  • November 5, 2014
  • 04:39 AM
  • 92 views

(Partly) explaining the increase in the prevalence of autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Changes in reporting practices can account for most (60%) of the increase in the observed prevalence of ASDs [autism spectrum disorders] in children born from 1980 through 1991 in Denmark."Prince of Denmark @ Wikipedia That was the headline conclusion reported by Stefan Nygaard Hansen and colleagues [1] based on an analysis of births in Denmark between 1st January 1980 and 31st December 1991 (N=677,915) followed up until 31st December 2011 (or "until ASD diagnosis, deat........ Read more »

  • November 4, 2014
  • 05:01 AM
  • 104 views

Producers and consumers of autism research: never the twain shall meet?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I was interested to read the paper by Elizabeth Pellicano and colleagues [1] (open-access) investigating "the views of community involvement in autism research both from the perspectives of autism researchers and of community members, including autistic adults, family members and practitioners". Quite a few results are reported including the idea that researchers "were skeptical about the possibilities of dramatically increasing community engagement, while community members themselves spoke abou........ Read more »

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