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  • May 17, 2017
  • 01:00 PM
  • 159 views

Epigenetic Marks Associated to Severe Obesity

by Delphine Fradin in EpiBeat

There is growing evidence that DNA methylation might contribute to obesity. Candidate gene methylation studies in animal models and humans have demonstrated methylation changes in promoters of various genes that are implicated in obesity, appetite control and/or metabolism, insulin signaling, immunity, growth and circadian clock regulation.

Severe obesity in children is defined as greater than or equal to 99th percentile of body mass index (BMI) for age and gender or a BMI z-score ≥3.5. Po........ Read more »

Fradin, D., Boëlle, P., Belot, M., Lachaux, F., Tost, J., Besse, C., Deleuze, J., De Filippo, G., & Bougnères, P. (2017) Genome-Wide Methylation Analysis Identifies Specific Epigenetic Marks In Severely Obese Children. Scientific Reports, 46311. DOI: 10.1038/srep46311  

  • May 17, 2017
  • 03:48 AM
  • 178 views

EEG abnormalities and "high functioning" autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm not a great fan of the term 'functioning' when it comes to autism (see here) hence the quote marks around high-functioning in the title of this post. Yes, I understand the message that it's trying to convey and that we don't have viable alternatives at the moment. It just however seems a little sweeping in terms of 'generalised' describing and labelling of people...No mind. Today I'd like to bring the paper by Özdem Ertürk Çetin and colleagues [1] to your attention and the observatio........ Read more »

  • May 16, 2017
  • 11:15 AM
  • 210 views

Fatal Attraction: Praying Mantises (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Britta Bibbo We all know the character: an incredibly beautiful woman that seduces the rough-and-tumble action hero, only for him to later find himself chained up over a lava pit with sharks in it! …Or something like that. A “femme fatal” is the idea of a beautiful woman who leads men to their demise. None are more perfect for this role than the female praying mantis. Praying mantis females practice the art of deception through sexual cannibalism. It’s exactly how it sounds: the m........ Read more »

  • May 16, 2017
  • 06:02 AM
  • 198 views

IMFAR, the autism numbers game and 12% showing 'optimal outcome'

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A post recently published on the Spectrum website led to my blogging entry today, and the observation that: 'Alternative screen finds high autism prevalence in U.S. state'.Discussing results delivered at IMFAR 2017 the research in question was that presented by Laura Carpenter and colleagues [1] (someone with quite a track record in autism research). This was a conference presentation and seemingly not yet peer-reviewed publication, so one needs to be a little cautious about making big clai........ Read more »

Carpenter LA, Boan AD, Wahlquist AE, Cohen A, Charles J, Jenner W, & Bradley CC. (2016) Screening and direct assessment methodology to determine the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders. Annals of epidemiology, 26(6), 395-400. PMID: 27230493  

  • May 15, 2017
  • 05:33 AM
  • 217 views

Intestinal dysbiosis, irritable bowel syndrome and ME/CFS

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I don't want to spend too much time talking about yet another paper from the research tag-team that is Hornig & Lipkin [1] (open-access) on the topic of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). But this latest addition to their research repertoire (see here) is deserving of several comments.Not least are the observations made by the authors - including one Brent Williams who some might remember from autism research history (see here) and Jose Montoya who has als........ Read more »

Nagy-Szakal D, Williams BL, Mishra N, Che X, Lee B, Bateman L, Klimas NG, Komaroff AL, Levine S, Montoya JG.... (2017) Fecal metagenomic profiles in subgroups of patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. Microbiome, 5(1), 44. PMID: 28441964  

  • May 13, 2017
  • 05:42 AM
  • 251 views

Welcoming zonulin into autism research

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I was VERY happy to read the paper published by Erman Esnafoglu and colleagues [1] suggesting that: "zonulin, which regulates intestinal permeability, plays a role in the development of symptoms of ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."Zonulin - something that "can be used as a biomarker of impaired gut barrier function for several autoimmune, neurodegenerative, and tumoral diseases" [2] - is a compound that I've been interested in for a while on this and other blogs (see here). The primary ........ Read more »

Esnafoglu, E., Cırrık, S., Ayyıldız, S., Erdil, A., Ertürk, E., Daglı, A., & Noyan, T. (2017) Increased Serum Zonulin Levels as an Intestinal Permeability Marker in Autistic Subjects. The Journal of Pediatrics. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2017.04.004  

  • May 12, 2017
  • 11:43 AM
  • 208 views

A Cuttlefish Clash: The Strongest, Stripeyist Guy Gets the Girl

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

I know what you’re thinking: “Why hasn’t she written about cuttlefish mating systems?” I understand, cuttlefish are ridiculously cool and you just need to know more about them. You are in luck as a brand new study has been published online about just that topic!Cuttlefish are cephalopods, which are all predatory marine animals that have at least eight arms, a siphon for jet-propulsion, and highly developed nervous and sensory systems (specifically the most sophisticated eye of all invert........ Read more »

Allen, J., Akkaynak, D., Schnell, A., & Hanlon, R. (2017) Dramatic Fighting by Male Cuttlefish for a Female Mate. The American Naturalist. DOI: 10.1086/692009  

  • May 12, 2017
  • 09:30 AM
  • 219 views

Could Parasites Be Causing Prostate Cancer?

by Bill Sullivan in The 'Scope

New study shows that a common parasite called Toxoplasma gondii forms tissue cysts and causes inflammation in mouse prostates. ... Read more »

  • May 12, 2017
  • 08:00 AM
  • 230 views

Friday Fellow: Spreading Earthmoss

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll If you still think mosses are uninteresting lifeforms, perhaps you will change your mind after knowing the spreading earthmoss, Physcomitrella patens. Found in temperate regions of the world, except for South America, but more commonly recorded in … Continue reading →... Read more »

Cove, D. (2005) The Moss Physcomitrella patens. Annual Review of Genetics, 39(1), 339-358. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.genet.39.073003.110214  

  • May 12, 2017
  • 04:02 AM
  • 254 views

Physical exercise as a nootropic of choice

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Nootropic, defined as a 'smart drug' or cognitive enhancer, is generally taken to mean a substance/compound/medicine that has some positive effect(s) on aspects of cognition. I've talked about the possibility that various compounds might fit this bill on this blog (see here for example) but today I'm discussing another quite important potential nootropic: exercise.It was the paper by Joseph Michael Northery and colleagues [1] (open-access) that added exercise to the nootropic categoris........ Read more »

  • May 11, 2017
  • 10:26 AM
  • 235 views

Land snails on islands: fascinating diversity, worrying vulnerability

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll The class Gastropoda, which includes snails and slugs, is only beaten by the insects in number of species worldwide, having currently about 80 thousand described species. Among those, about 24 thousand live on land, where they are … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • May 11, 2017
  • 04:08 AM
  • 254 views

Could an "ill-state" associated with anorexia nervosa mimic the symptoms of autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The question posed in the title of this post 'Could an "ill-state" associated with anorexia nervosa mimic the symptoms of autism?' stems from the findings reported by Heather Westwood and colleagues [1] (open-access).They continued a research theme looking at the potential 'overlap' when it comes to autism and eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa (AN) (see here). Notably, researchers questioned whether the finding that some 50% of their cohort "scored above the clinical cut-off on the ........ Read more »

  • May 10, 2017
  • 05:56 AM
  • 193 views

Sustainable hunting regulations take the speed of trophy growth into account

by sschindler in sschindlerblog

Hunting regulations aim to keep trophy hunting sustainable. Yet most regulations fall short of this aim and trophy size is becoming shorter over time in most hunted populations, such as Bighorn sheep, Impala, Mouflon, and Sable antelope. This might be due to ignoring the speed of trophy growth when deciding on hunting regulations. more Schindler, […]... Read more »

Schindler, S., Festa-Bianchet, M., Hogg, J., & Pelletier, F. (2017) Hunting, age structure, and horn size distribution in bighorn sheep. The Journal of Wildlife Management. DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.21259  

  • May 10, 2017
  • 03:35 AM
  • 254 views

Conviction for violence and autism: comorbidity counts

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I tread carefully when discussing the results published by Ragini Heeramun and colleagues [1] on the topic of "whether autism is associated with convictions for violent crimes" and "the associated risk and protective factors." Carefully because, as I've indicated on other occasions (see here), people commit crimes not labels, and sweeping generalisations about labels, specific types of crime and/or the concept of 'dangerousness' tend to do very little to help anyone in the long term.St........ Read more »

Heeramun, R., Magnusson, C., Gumpert, C., Granath, S., Lundberg, M., Dalman, C., & Rai, D. (2017) Autism and Convictions for Violent Crimes: Population-Based Cohort Study in Sweden. Journal of the American Academy of Child . DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2017.03.011  

  • May 9, 2017
  • 05:24 AM
  • 231 views

"Medical Conditions in the First Years of Life Associated with Future Diagnosis of ASD"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I rank the paper by Stacey Alexeeff and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) as being in the 'pretty important' category when it comes to hierarchy in autism research. Not only because of their use of data derived from Kaiser Permanente (KP) (quite a large US healthcare provider that has some autism research history) including some "3911 ASD [autism spectrum disorder] cases and 38,609 controls" but also because some of the findings reiterate what is already 'known' abo........ Read more »

Alexeeff SE, Yau V, Qian Y, Davignon M, Lynch F, Crawford P, Davis R, & Croen LA. (2017) Medical Conditions in the First Years of Life Associated with Future Diagnosis of ASD in Children. Journal of autism and developmental disorders. PMID: 28434058  

  • May 8, 2017
  • 02:08 PM
  • 237 views

Neuropeptides and Peer Review Failure

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A new paper in the prestigious journal PNAS contains a rather glaring blooper.

The paper, from Oxford University researchers Eiluned Pearce et al., is about the relationship between genes and social behaviour. The blooper is right there in the abstract, which states that "three neuropeptides (β-endorphin, oxytocin, and dopamine) play particularly important roles" in human sociality. But dopamine is not a neuropeptide.



Neither are serotonin or testosterone, but throughout the paper, Pea... Read more »

  • May 8, 2017
  • 04:04 AM
  • 201 views

Vitamin D genes and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Vitamin D deficiency is a putative environmental risk factor for autism spectrum disorder (ASD)."And..."We provide straightforward genetic evidences for the first time that VDRGs [vitamin D-related genes] with a strong degree of DNM [de novo mutations] burden in ASD and DNMs of VDRGs could be involved in the mechanism underlying in ASD pathogenesis."That was the research bottom line reported on by Jinchen Li and colleagues [1] examining an important part of the whole 'vitami........ Read more »

Li J, Wang L, Yu P, Shi L, Zhang K, Sun ZS, & Xia K. (2017) Vitamin D-related genes are subjected to significant de novo mutation burdens in autism spectrum disorder. American journal of medical genetics. Part B, Neuropsychiatric genetics : the official publication of the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics. PMID: 28407358  

  • May 8, 2017
  • 01:56 AM
  • 209 views

Finding real rewards in a virtual world

by adam phillips in It Ain't Magic

A new study shows that mice who learn to find goals in virtual reality use their hippocampus the same was as in the real world.... Read more »

  • May 6, 2017
  • 06:03 AM
  • 210 views

Congenital heart disease and autism and ADHD: Taiwan wades in

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The incidence rates of perinatal comorbidities, EDD [early developmental disorders], ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder], and ASD [autism spectrum disorder] were higher in the CHD [congenital heart disease] group than in the control group."So said the findings reported by Pei-Chen Tsao and colleagues [1] investigating an issue that has cropped up more than once on this blog in relation to the developmental/behavioural correlates possibly associated with........ Read more »

  • May 5, 2017
  • 08:00 AM
  • 139 views

Friday Fellow: Toxo

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll If I had to bet on a parasite that you who are reading this probably have in your body, I’d go for today’s fellow, the protist Toxoplasma gondii, sometimes simply called toxo. Found worldwide, the toxo is … Continue reading →... Read more »

Tenter, A., Heckeroth, A., & Weiss, L. (2000) Toxoplasma gondii: from animals to humans. International Journal for Parasitology, 30(12-13), 1217-1258. DOI: 10.1016/S0020-7519(00)00124-7  

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