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Autism research and other musings

Paul Whiteley
1,176 posts

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  • December 19, 2016
  • 03:19 AM
  • 416 views

Gut barrier integrity meets blood-brain barrier integrity with autism in mind

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In the ASD [autism spectrum disorder] brain, there is an altered expression of genes associated with BBB [blood-brain barrier] integrity coupled with increased neuroinflammation and possibly impaired gut barrier integrity."Although pretty enthused to see research linking names like Anna Sapone, Tim Buie and Alessio Fasano in the recent paper published by Maria Fiorentino and colleagues [1] (open-access), I was slightly less impressed with the use of the term 'the ASD brain' ........ Read more »

Fiorentino, M., Sapone, A., Senger, S., Camhi, S., Kadzielski, S., Buie, T., Kelly, D., Cascella, N., & Fasano, A. (2016) Blood–brain barrier and intestinal epithelial barrier alterations in autism spectrum disorders. Molecular Autism, 7(1). DOI: 10.1186/s13229-016-0110-z  

  • December 17, 2016
  • 05:51 AM
  • 354 views

Pregnancy influenza infection not linked to offspring autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"There was no association between maternal influenza [flu] infection anytime during pregnancy and increased ASD [autism spectrum disorder] risk."So said the findings reported by Ousseny Zerbo and colleagues [1] continuing a research theme from this author (see here for example) looking at how various infections 'encountered' during critical periods of pregnancy may / may not impact on offspring autism risk. This time around the focus was on viral infections and in partic........ Read more »

  • December 16, 2016
  • 03:16 AM
  • 352 views

Non-febrile seizures in children with autism vs unaffected siblings

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Children with idiopathic ASD [autism spectrum disorder] are significantly more likely to have non-febrile seizures than their unaffected siblings, suggesting that non-febrile seizures may be ASD-specific."So said the findings from Lena McCue and colleagues [1] (open-access) continuing a research theme looking at one of the important 'comorbidities' that seems to be over-represented when it comes to a diagnosis of autism (see here). Idiopathic autism or ASD refers to autism as the........ Read more »

  • December 15, 2016
  • 02:59 AM
  • 411 views

ADHD, not autism, might count when it comes to 'comorbid psychiatric symptomatology'

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A quote to begin this fairly brief post: "Our study concluded that higher levels of ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] severity-not ASD [autism spectrum disorder] severity-were associated with a higher prevalence of comorbid psychiatric symptomatology in school-age children with ASD. These findings may encourage clinicians to thoroughly assess ADHD symptomatology in ASD children to better inform treatment planning."That was the research bottom line reported by Ro........ Read more »

  • December 14, 2016
  • 03:07 AM
  • 382 views

Urinary metabolomics in autism turns up tryptophan (again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The tryptophan metabolic pathway collectively displays the largest perturbations in ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."So said the findings reported by Federica Gevi and colleagues [1] (open-access) who provide yet more 'metabolomic' data when it comes to autism to add to the already quite voluminous peer-reviewed matter on this topic (see here for example).Just in case you aren't analytical chemistry-saavy, metabolomics is basically the study of the various chemical fingerprints that th........ Read more »

  • December 13, 2016
  • 04:25 AM
  • 374 views

'My child is not talking'. Online concerns and internet-based screening for autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Online communities are used as platforms by parents to verify developmental and health concerns related to their child."That was the starting point for the study results reported by Ben-Sasson & Yom-Tov [1] (open-access available here) who approached an increasingly important issue related to how the Internet and social media in particular, is fast becoming one of the 'go-to' options when it comes to parental concerns about their child's development and the question: could it be autism........ Read more »

  • December 12, 2016
  • 04:37 AM
  • 356 views

Maternal immune activation (MIA) and Old World monkeys

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Old World monkeys detailed in the title of this post, specifically refers to a type of animal called a rhesus macaque who were the 'participants' of choice as detailed in a recent study by Destanie Rose and colleagues [1] looking at a concept called maternal immune activation (MIA).Those who followed this blog down the years will no doubt have seen me discuss MIA before in the context of autism and/or schizophrenia (see here for example). The basic theory is that whilst in-utero a........ Read more »

  • December 10, 2016
  • 04:28 AM
  • 429 views

"Are we expecting too much from the extreme male brain theory of autism?"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The title of this post reflects the commentary published by Andrew Whitehouse [1] (open-access) discussing the meaning of the findings reported by Kung and colleagues [2] who quite categorically stated that there was: "No relationship between prenatal androgen exposure and autistic traits" in their study.OK, androgen exposure and psychology basically refers to the extreme male brain theory and autism which suggests that the so-called over-representation of autism in males is potentiall........ Read more »

  • December 9, 2016
  • 04:53 AM
  • 391 views

'Big data' Taiwan and schizophrenia risk

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Today I bring the findings reported by Chou and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) to the blogging table and how the research might of the Taiwan National Health Insurance Database (NHIRD) brought it's 'big data' ("n = 23 422 955") to bear on the question: what is the risk of developing schizophrenia where one or more first-degree or other relatives are affected?The answer: "Having an affected co-twin, first-degree relative, second-degree relative, or spouse was associate........ Read more »

  • December 8, 2016
  • 04:51 AM
  • 373 views

Prescription medication use and autism: good medicines management required

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Prescription drug use and polypharmacy rates among adults with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] are substantially higher than those in an age-, sex-, and race-matched cohort of adults without ASD."That sentence taken from the paper by Rini Vohra and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) is probably not likely to win any 'novel findings of the year' awards given the already quite voluminous data published on the medication use and autism (see here for example). What gives the ........ Read more »

  • December 7, 2016
  • 12:36 PM
  • 364 views

Pregnancy folic acid and offspring autism systematically reviewed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"A total of 22 original papers that examined the association between folic acid supplementation in human pregnancy and neurodevelopment/autism were identified after the screening, with 15 studies showing a beneficial effect of folic acid supplementation on neurodevelopment/autism, 6 studies showed no statistically significant difference, while one study showed a harmful effect in > 5 mg folic acid supplementation/day during pregnancy."That rather long quote taken from the paper published by Y........ Read more »

  • December 6, 2016
  • 03:05 AM
  • 316 views

Infections treated with anti-infective agents linked to schizophrenia?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Identify everyone born in Denmark between 1985-2002. Identify those treated "in the primary care setting" for an infection. Identify those diagnosed with schizophrenia and affective disorders. Look-see whether there is an overlap between infection or treated infection and schizophrenia / affective disorders. Report results.That's basically the study published by Köhler and colleagues [1] (a name that has appeared on this blog before) who concluded that: "Infections treated with anti-infect........ Read more »

  • December 5, 2016
  • 02:58 AM
  • 373 views

Double-blind randomised, placebo-controlled trial of vitamin D in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

It was inevitable ("it is your destiny") that I would formulate a post about the paper published by Khaled Saad and colleagues [1] reporting results based on "a double-blinded, randomized clinical trial (RCT)" looking at the potential usefulness of a vitamin D supplement on "the core symptoms of autism in children." Inevitable because the peer-reviewed research literature looking at the sunshine vitamin/hormone in relation to autism is getting rather voluminous (see here and see here f........ Read more »

Saad K, Abdel-Rahman AA, Elserogy YM, Al-Atram AA, El-Houfey AA, Othman HA, Bjørklund G, Jia F, Urbina MA, Abo-Elela MG.... (2016) Randomized controlled trial of vitamin D supplementation in children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines. PMID: 27868194  

  • December 3, 2016
  • 04:23 AM
  • 360 views

Parent-mediated interventions for young children with autism meta-analysed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Do not mess with  Lois.Today I'm posting on the topic of the paper by Rose Nevill and colleagues [1] concluding: "that while most outcome domains of parent-delivered intervention are associated with small effects, the quality of research is improving."Parent-mediated interventions in relation to autism have been covered on this blog quite recently (see here) accompanied by that 'super-parenting' headline fail. Such approaches work on the idea that helping parents to "develop strategies........ Read more »

  • December 2, 2016
  • 03:18 AM
  • 503 views

The prebiotic galactooligosaccharide (B-GOS) and autism: just add to poo(p)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Yes, it is childish but...With all the continued chatter on a possible role for the collected gut microbiota - those wee beasties that inhabit our deepest, darkest recesses - in relation to some autism (see here for example), the paper by Roberta Grimaldi and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) provides yet more potentially important information.So, poo(p) samples were the starring material in the paper - "obtained from three non-autistic children and three autistic child donors"- and sp........ Read more »

  • December 1, 2016
  • 02:57 AM
  • 362 views

Dietary fibre deficiency and gut barrier integrity

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Dietary fiber deprivation, together with a fiber-deprived, mucus-eroding microbiota, promotes greater epithelial access and lethal colitis by the mucosal pathogen, Citrobacter rodentium."So said the findings reported by Mahesh Desai and colleagues [1] meriting an editorial in the publishing journal [2] as the sentiments of 'eating your greens' applies to some rather interesting [mouse] findings.Fibre (UK spelling) comes in various different forms typically categorised as soluble and insoluble d........ Read more »

Desai MS, Seekatz AM, Koropatkin NM, Kamada N, Hickey CA, Wolter M, Pudlo NA, Kitamoto S, Terrapon N, Muller A.... (2016) A Dietary Fiber-Deprived Gut Microbiota Degrades the Colonic Mucus Barrier and Enhances Pathogen Susceptibility. Cell, 167(5), 1339-2147483647. PMID: 27863247  

  • November 30, 2016
  • 03:10 AM
  • 324 views

Restless leg syndrome in parents of children with autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The findings reported by Maureen Russell and colleagues [1] provide some blogging fodder today and the observation that: "Biological caregivers of children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] demonstrated a high prevalence of RLS [Restless Legs Syndrome] symptoms and poorer mental health."OK, I know some people might be asking 'just what is Restless Legs Syndrome'? It is a recognised condition complete with 'disease' title (Willis-Ekbom disease). Symptoms, as the name suggests, centre ........ Read more »

Russell M, Baldwin C, McClain D, Matthews N, Smith C, & Quan SF. (2016) Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome in Biological Caregivers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. PMID: 27855729  

  • November 29, 2016
  • 05:24 AM
  • 356 views

Publication bias and autism research

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The title of the paper by Konstantin Mechler and colleagues - "Defining the hidden evidence in autism research. Forty per cent of rigorously designed clinical trials remain unpublished - a cross-sectional analysis" [1] - provides some discussion today. Drawing on the ideas that publication bias and/or the so-called 'file-drawer problem' - terms that refer to the non-publication of study results potentially skewing the collected scientific opinion in a particular area - might also exten........ Read more »

  • November 28, 2016
  • 03:23 AM
  • 366 views

On moving off the autism spectrum

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Nahit Motavalli Mukaddes and colleagues [1] provides some important, if small-scale, information when it comes to that still controversial term - optimal outcome - with the diagnosis of autism in mind. Optimal outcome basically refers to a particular 'type' of autism whereby following a definite diagnosis of autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a later re-evaluation of signs and symptoms reveals that diagnostic thresholds are subsequently not reached and/or exceeded a........ Read more »

  • November 26, 2016
  • 04:33 AM
  • 332 views

Acetylation focus over methylation in autism epigenetics?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Wenjie Sun and colleagues [1] (open-access) provides the blogging fodder for today's post and although based on the science of epigenetics, the usual suspect - DNA methylation - gives way to another concept: histone acetylation with autism in mind. Before heading into the paper myself, I'll draw your attention to some other write-ups of the study including a hat-tip to Jeff Craig and his piece on the topic (see here).So histone acetylation... I've covered the subject ........ Read more »

Sun, W., Poschmann, J., Cruz-Herrera del Rosario, R., Parikshak, N., Hajan, H., Kumar, V., Ramasamy, R., Belgard, T., Elanggovan, B., Wong, C.... (2016) Histone Acetylome-wide Association Study of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Cell, 167(5), 1385-2147483647. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.10.031  

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