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Autism research and other musings

Paul Whiteley
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  • October 8, 2012
  • 10:02 AM

Vitamin D deficiency and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Vitamin D3 @ Wikipedia I have no hesitation in admitting to being more than a little bit "obsessive" about my data capture and the volumes of lovely, yummy science-y research alerts it produces. Indeed quite a bit of said research ends up as fodder for this and its sister blogs but most in the Twitter onslaught which my poor followers have to endure. Yes, I am probably addicted to information (but better this than other vices).One of my alerts is based on the various collected works be........ Read more »

Berkovitz S, Ambler G, Jenkins M, & Thurgood S. (2009) Serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels in chronic fatigue syndrome: a retrospective survey. International journal for vitamin and nutrition research. Internationale Zeitschrift fur Vitamin- und Ernahrungsforschung. Journal international de vitaminologie et de nutrition, 79(4), 250-4. PMID: 20209476  

  • October 5, 2012
  • 09:29 AM

Teeth, dentists and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

In this post I want to cover some of the collected research looking at teeth, oral hygiene and dentists in relation to autism spectrum conditions in light of this paper by Yi-Chia Wang and colleagues* and the various indications for the use of dental anesthesia indicating paediatric autism.I have, in passing, mentioned teeth and autism in previous posts; most notably in this post on self-injurious behaviour (SIB) and the potentially wide variety of reasons to account for instances of SIB in........ Read more »

Wang YC, Lin IH, Huang CH, & Fan SZ. (2012) Dental anesthesia for patients with special needs. Acta anaesthesiologica Taiwanica : official journal of the Taiwan Society of Anesthesiologists, 50(3), 122-5. PMID: 23026171  

  • October 3, 2012
  • 07:02 AM

When the autism and schizophrenia spectrums collide

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Spectrum is Green @ Wikipedia Spectrum. The name conjures up white light separating out through a prism, the multi-coloured rainbow, and even that wonderful 8-bit computer made by Sir Clive Sinclair (yes, I had one of those you Commodore people).When it comes to autism and schizophrenia, the concept of a spectrum invokes similar ideas of different variations or colours on a theme, separate but linked, patterns of symptoms which stem from a single source but diffuse outwards with fuzzy ........ Read more »

  • October 2, 2012
  • 06:45 AM

Epidermal Growth Factor and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Stanley Cohen @ NIHI'm sure that regular readers of this blog are getting pretty used to (replace with 'sick and tired of') me talking about cytokines in relation to autism and other research areas.Cytokines are those little chemical messengers which are able to stimulate both arms of the immune system (innate and adaptive) having various effects for example, in mediating inflammation. Yes sirree, these little critters perform some pretty critical tasks related to our health and wellbeing.Althou........ Read more »

  • September 30, 2012
  • 04:49 AM

Pets win (prosocial) prizes?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Miss Ellie Dog @WikipediaPets have never really been a great part of my childhood it has to be said. Aside from a cat allergy which sort of ruled out any would-be Top Cat staying at ours, the family home just wasn't graced with enough space to accommodate other animal companions.I did have a goldfish called George for a short period of time; that is until he/she(?) passed away and went to the great WC in the sky. Sad memories indeed.This lack of animal contact during my childhood is probably why........ Read more »

Grandgeorge M, Tordjman S, Lazartigues A, Lemonnier E, Deleau M, & Hausberger M. (2012) Does pet arrival trigger prosocial behaviors in individuals with autism?. PloS one, 7(8). PMID: 22870246  

  • September 28, 2012
  • 05:23 PM

Pretend play and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A lightsaber in production @ WikipediaI'm leaving the heavy biochemistry of late behind in this post with a link to an interesting paper recently posted on Twitter by Prof. Graham Davey (Twitter: @GrahamCLDavey) reviewing the current evidence on the impact of pretend play on child development*.To quote: "...existing evidence does not support strong causal claims about the unique importance of pretend play for development".Whoa there... pretend play over just play might not be such a vital compon........ Read more »

Lillard AS, Lerner MD, Hopkins EJ, Dore RA, Smith ED, & Palmquist CM. (2012) The Impact of Pretend Play on Children's Development: A Review of the Evidence. Psychological bulletin. PMID: 22905949  

  • September 27, 2012
  • 06:05 AM

Endocannabinoids and fragile X syndrome

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Fragile X syndrome (FXS), one of the known causes of autism or rather autistic behaviours, has been receiving quite a lot of research and media attention lately. Arbaclofen (STX209) with FXS in mind was the topic of the most recent post (see here); now we have the article by Kwang-Mook Jung and colleagues* (open-access) on endocannabinoid signalling. There may be quite a few similarities between this latest endocannabinoid research and the growing interest in glutamate and its receptor........ Read more »

Kwang-Mook Jung, Marja Sepers, Christopher M. Henstridge, Olivier Lassalle, Daniela Neuhofer, Henry Martin, Melanie Ginger, Andreas Frick, Nicholas V. DiPatrizio, Ken Mackie.... (2012) Uncoupling of the endocannabinoid signalling complex in a mouse model of fragile X syndrome. Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2045  

  • September 26, 2012
  • 07:07 AM

Glycine as a sleep aid?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Sleeping beauty @ Paul WhiteleyWhen it comes to sleep and autism, or more specifically suggestions on how to improve sleeping patterns and sleep duration in cases of childhood autism, one compound crops up time and time again: melatonin.I've talked about melatonin quite a bit on this blog; running through the current evidence for effect (here) and also speculatively discussing some of the ways and means that melatonin is made (here) and where the various findings on alterations in levels of the ........ Read more »

  • September 24, 2012
  • 05:33 PM

Antibiotic exposure and inflammatory bowel disease

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

MRSA @ CDC #7820I mentioned in a previous post how some reading on the gut microbiome is taking up some of my time recently. I've been quite lucky in writing some of the literature for that particular project now because papers seem to be cropping up left, right and centre making the whole task a little less taxing.So it was recently when this paper by Kronman and colleagues* was published in the journal Pediatrics, and their assertion of a possible link between childhood antianaerobic anti........ Read more »

Matthew P. Kronman, Theoklis E. Zaoutis, Kevin Haynes, Rui Feng, & Susan E. Coffin. (2012) Antibiotic exposure and IBD development among children: a population-based cohort study. Pediatrics. info:/10.1542/peds.2011-3886

  • September 24, 2012
  • 04:57 AM

Micronutrients for stress and anxiety after earthquake

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Lycosthène @ WikipediaThe junction between stress, anxiety and environment is of particular interest to this blog. I don't pretend to be an expert on the various mechanisms at work in such a relationship but, based on quite a thorough reading of some of the autism research literature in this area, I am beginning to understand how anxiety, chronic anxiety in particular, is a debilitating condition and plays a primary role in the reduction in quality of life for many, many people.Moving slightly ........ Read more »

  • September 22, 2012
  • 03:42 PM

No clinically meaningful differences: gut bacteria and autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Whose stool? @WikipediaI've been in heavy gut microbiome reading mode these past few days as a result of helping to write some overview material on the topic (and various other -omics) for some collaborations. Autism spectrum disorders have not been a specific focus for most of the work, but I've been drawing heavily on the collected research so far as per the Lipkin Sutterella findings and the Aussie Akkermansia muciniphila observations.It was with great interest therefore that I read the abstr........ Read more »

  • September 20, 2012
  • 03:31 PM


by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I assume quite a few people have already read the various reports about STX209* (most definitely not to be confused with ED-209) otherwise known as arbaclofen with Fragile X syndrome in mind. Hailed as 'The First Drug that Could Help Social Withdrawal in Autism' according to one news source, the headlines are based on the results of this study by Elizabeth Berry-Kravis and colleagues** complemented by this study by Henderson and colleagues*** published on the same day in the same ........ Read more »

Elizabeth M. Berry-Kravis, David Hessl, Barbara Rathmell, Peter Zarevics, Maryann Cherubini, Karen Walton-Bowen, Yi Mu, Danh V. Nguyen, Joseph Gonzalez-Heydrich, Paul P. Wang.... (2012) Effects of STX209 (Arbaclofen) on neurobehavioral function in children and adults with Fragile X Syndrome: a randomized, controlled, phase 2 trial. Science Translational Medicine. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3004214  

  • September 19, 2012
  • 05:36 PM

Lenalidomide and autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Lenalidomide @ WikipediaOf the thousands of medicines which have been or are currently in use, a few really enter the mainstream public consciousness for a variety of different reasons.That little blue pill which now graces many a man's medicine cabinet worldwide is probably the best example, as any email spam folder can readily confirm.One drug, suggested to treat morning sickness during pregnancy in the late 1950s, is however synonymous with the darker side of pharmaceutics; illustrative ........ Read more »

  • September 18, 2012
  • 09:17 AM

XMRV and chronic fatigue syndrome: the results are in...

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Drummer boy @ WikipediaDrum roll please maestro.It's been on the horizon for quite a while. The speculation about what will be found, the teaser announcements pinpointing Tuesday 18th September 2012 as the big day, the excitement was building.And finally here it is.The big multi-centre study initiated by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases headed by the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health to once-and........ Read more »

Harvey J. Alter, Judy A. Mikovits, William M. Switzer, Francis W. Ruscetti, Shyh-Ching Lo, Nancy Klimas, Anthony L. Komaroff, Jose G. Montoya, Lucinda Bateman, Susan Levine.... (2012) A Multicenter Blinded Analysis Indicates No Association between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and either Xenotropic Murine Leukemia Virus-Related Virus or Polytropic Murine Leukemia Virus. mBio. info:/10.1128/​mBio.00266-12

  • September 13, 2012
  • 04:49 AM

MTHFR and autism reloaded

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

MTHFR @ Paul WhiteleyI've talked before about the enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, or MTHFR to its friends, and the suggested link with autism.A few points are worth remembering:MTHFR serves a primary function in reducing the compound 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate to 5-methyltetrahydrofolate. On a grander scale, 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, the reduced and methylated form of folic acid, is an important methyl group donor for the recycling of homocysteine back to meth........ Read more »

  • September 11, 2012
  • 06:36 PM

Gene pathway analysis and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In conclusion, we have developed an accurate diagnostic test for a genetically homogeneous group to aid in early detection of ASD". The big headline to come from this paper by Skafidas and colleagues* (open-access) reporting results based on gene pathway analysis of SNPs previously associated with autism.This is an interesting paper for quite a few different reasons. Primarily it kinda accepts that looking at SNPs alone as being the key to autism is probably not going to be a great idea. I........ Read more »

  • September 10, 2012
  • 05:04 AM

Maternal IgG antibodies and offspring autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Baby, baby @ Wikipedia  I'm acutely aware that many of the autism and related research papers that I discuss on this blog have the ability to be construed in more than one way.Take for example the collected data being produced on de novo mutations and older dads as being a risk factor for autism. The message - particularly in the accompanying media - emerging from that body of work suggests that paternal age might well have the ability to affect the risk of offspring developing autism. Inde........ Read more »

  • September 6, 2012
  • 06:48 PM

BCKDK mutations: a treatable form of autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The Nature headline reads: Amino-acid deficiency underlies rare form of autism. My interest is piqued. The paper by Novarino and colleagues* suggests "autism presenting with intellectual disability and epilepsy caused by BCKDK mutations represents a potentially treatable syndrome". My interest is most definitely piqued. Hence therefore this very quick post (yeah right!) on some potentially very important results.Let's rewind a bit first. I've talked about amino acids and autism (and schizop........ Read more »

Gaia Novarino1,*,†, Paul El-Fishawy2,*, Hulya Kayserili3, Nagwa A. Meguid4, Eric M. Scott1, Jana Schroth1, Jennifer L. Silhavy1, Majdi Kara5, Rehab O. Khalil4, Tawfeg Ben-Omran6, A. Gulhan Ercan-Sencicek7, Adel F. Hashish4, Stephan J. Sanders7, Abha R. , Hebatalla S Hashem, Dietrich Matern, Stacey Gabriel, Larry Sweetman, Yasmeen Rahimi, Robert A. Harris, Matthew W. State, & Joseph G. Gleeson. (2012) Mutations in BCKD-kinase lead to a potentially treatable form of autism with epilepsy. Science. info:/10.1126/science.1224631

  • September 6, 2012
  • 07:59 AM

PCB congeners and 15q11-q13 duplication autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Contains PCBs @ WikipediaThe science news is currently awash with talk about results from the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project (see here for a good description). The net results have been summarised by quite a few media outlets including the BBC, including the suggestion that junk DNA might not be as junk as first thought (see this post from MJ over at Autism Jabberwocky).I was interested to see that the words DNA methylation cropped up quite a few times during the course of th........ Read more »

  • September 4, 2012
  • 04:18 AM

Dried blood spots, cytokines and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Thank you Robert Guthrie @ WikipediaThe Nature website recently carried an interesting headline: "Archived blood spots could be epigenetic jackpot" based on a recent study by Huriya Beyan and colleagues* on the application of DNA methylomics to stored Guthrie cards to study early infant epigenetics.Just in case this makes no sense to you, the basic suggestion is that all those dried blood spots taken from days old infants to test for various inborn errors of metabolism like PKU, c........ Read more »

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