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Autism research and other musings

Paul Whiteley
1,226 posts

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  • November 26, 2012
  • 06:39 PM

CHARGE, traffic pollution and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The headline reads "Traffic fumes linked to autism". The by-line describes how babies who were exposed to traffic air pollution during their first year of life "are more likely to become autistic". Welcome to the study by Heather Volk and colleagues* on traffic pollution, particulate matter and risk of autism.Motorbiking... @ Wikipedia  Before heading into the paper, the discerning autism research reader will no doubt remember that this is a topic which has already cropped up in autism rese........ Read more »

  • November 25, 2012
  • 04:51 PM

Matrix metalloproteinases and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Peptidases. The enzymes that split apart peptide bonds, have always been of some interest to me. Not only resulting from my continued interest in peptides as being one potential suggestion why a gluten- and/or casein-free diet might affect symptom presentation in some cases of autism but also because of their relationship to the building blocks of functional life, the amino acids, which are really starting to make some waves in autism research.Just split @ Wikipedia  With all this........ Read more »

Abdallah MW, Pearce BD, Larsen N, Greaves-Lord K, Nørgaard-Pedersen B, Hougaard DM, Mortensen EL, & Grove J. (2012) Amniotic Fluid MMP-9 and Neurotrophins in Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Exploratory Study. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research. PMID: 23008271  

  • November 23, 2012
  • 03:15 PM

Stop that phenylalanine now!

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm going slightly off-piste with this post not strictly related to autism; however remaining true to my interest in all things amino acids, and in particular one of those most interesting aromatic amino acids, phenylalanine.Phenylalanine @ WikipediaA few months back Chemistry World carried a very interesting article by Jon Evans* on how the amino acid phenylalanine might very well have the capacity to form amyloid-like fibrils classically related to conditions like Alzheimers disease. The artic........ Read more »

Adler-Abramovich L, Vaks L, Carny O, Trudler D, Magno A, Caflisch A, Frenkel D, & Gazit E. (2012) Phenylalanine assembly into toxic fibrils suggests amyloid etiology in phenylketonuria. Nature chemical biology. PMID: 22706200  

  • November 21, 2012
  • 06:25 PM

More mice, more autism-like behaviours corrected

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm sure that by now you're all used to hearing about mouse models and autism and the relative ease it seems, that researchers are able to reverse autistic behaviours in certain strains of mice. I've posted entries about such marvels of modern-day science a few times including reference to the work of Paul Patterson and bone marrow transplants and the reports on the use of arbaclofen in the Fragile X syndrome (FXS) / autism behaviours mouse model. All this bearing in mind that mice are mice and ........ Read more »

Gkogkas, C., Khoutorsky, A., Ran, I., Rampakakis, E., Nevarko, T., Weatherill, D., Vasuta, C., Yee, S., Truitt, M., Dallaire, P.... (2012) Autism-related deficits via dysregulated eIF4E-dependent translational control. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature11628  

  • November 20, 2012
  • 05:46 PM

Regression and autism continued

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Regression.Definition: "relapse to a less perfect or developed state".Apologies for the very dramatic and very scientifically 'cold' description of regression. But as has been mentioned in the scientific literature, defining regression where it does occur in cases of autism has been a bit of a sticking point in some quarters.Indeed, the topic of regression in relation to autism onset has graced this blog before. In that post, the main message was that after a bit of a lack of initial appreciatio........ Read more »

  • November 18, 2012
  • 05:03 AM

Human Endogenous Retroviruses (HERVs) and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Please don't be put off by the title of this post or the jargon it contains. I merely offer some discussion on a paper recently published at Emanuela Balestrieri and colleagues* (open-access) on the expression of Human Endogenous Retroviruses (HERVs) in cases of autism.The Martians are a comin' @ Wikipedia  HERVs are probably best described as the genetic remnants of viruses stored in the human genome. Consider this: over the course of the evolution of humankind, we have been in contact wit........ Read more »

Balestrieri E, Arpino C, Matteucci C, Sorrentino R, Pica F, Alessandrelli R, Coniglio A, Curatolo P, Rezza G, Macciardi F.... (2012) HERVs Expression in Autism Spectrum Disorders. PloS one, 7(11). PMID: 23155411  

  • November 16, 2012
  • 07:40 AM

Putting Money on autoimmunity and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Go to Jail, go directly to jail... @ Wikipedia  I owe a debt of gratitude to Natasa who brought me to the very short and very pay-walled communication by McDougle & Carlezon* discussing neuroinflammation and autism. Whilst the open-accessing of research is seemingly discussed in bulk these days, we are not quite there yet in making science free and accessible to all hence I can't refer you to the full-text paper at this time unfortunately.No mind, the McDougle communication is brief but........ Read more »

Money J, Bobrow NA, & Clarke FC. (1971) Autism and autoimmune disease: a family study. Journal of autism and childhood schizophrenia, 1(2), 146-60. PMID: 5172389  

  • November 14, 2012
  • 05:12 AM

Maternal vitamin D and autism phenotype

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Autism research in the media is currently buzzing with the news that maternal influenza - or at least something that looks like flu - during pregnancy might potentially increase the risk of offspring autism as per the paper by Hjördis Ósk Atladóttir and colleagues*. Not for the first time has maternal infection during those special nine months been the focus of interest similar to some discussions earlier this year (2012) emulating some interesting mouse research from Paul Patt........ Read more »

Whitehouse AJ, Holt BJ, Serralha M, Holt PG, Hart PH, & Kusel MM. (2012) Maternal Vitamin D Levels and the Autism Phenotype Among Offspring. Journal of autism and developmental disorders. PMID: 23070790  

  • November 12, 2012
  • 04:49 AM

Ironing out iron and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm a little bit puzzled when it comes to iron and autism.  In one of my earliest posts on this blog I talked about iron deficiency and autism, and how at that point there was some suggestion that there may be issues with iron availability in cases of autism and what remedial measures might be indicated.Opposites attract? @ Wikipedia  As with just about everything in autism research, things are never so straight forward though. With the recent paper from Reynolds and colleagues* (open-........ Read more »

Reynolds A, Krebs NF, Stewart PA, Austin H, Johnson SL, Withrow N, Molloy C, James SJ, Johnson C, Clemons T.... (2012) Iron status in children with autism spectrum disorder. Pediatrics. PMID: 23118246  

  • November 10, 2012
  • 04:36 AM

The pediatric ADHD numbers

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

In amongst the various studies which I have a tendency to read, quite a lot of column inches seem to have been dedicated to the prevalence of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in one sense or another.Counting @ Wikipedia Take for example the quite recent paper by Hanson and colleagues* estimating the rate of ADHD in cases of pediatric and adolescent autism spectrum disorder.Out of over 1500 children included for analysis, they detected comorbid ADHD (clinically significant lev........ Read more »

  • November 8, 2012
  • 05:12 AM

Schizophrenia, central canal and particles?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Canals, we have quite a few of them here in Blighty. People cruise them on their canal boats to slowly take in the rich countryside and reminisce over their important role in our Industrial past. Venice has also quite a few canals, as was wrongly believed about Mars quite a few years ago.Canals not camels @ Wikipedia A very different kind of canal is the topic of today's post, the central canal, an important part of our body given that it houses cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the stuff our........ Read more »

  • November 6, 2012
  • 09:43 AM

Bone density, vitamin D and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The quite recent paper published by Ann Neumeyer and colleagues* on bone mineral density in boys diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) brings me back to a topic which I've talked a little about before specifically with relation to use of a casein-free diet and what that may mean for bone health and autism.Bones: I'm a Doctor not a ..... @ Wikipedia  In that previous post the issue of bone health was discussed following a piece of research published by Hediger and colleagues** whi........ Read more »

Neumeyer AM, Gates A, Ferrone C, Lee H, & Misra M. (2012) Bone Density in Peripubertal Boys with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Journal of autism and developmental disorders. PMID: 23124396  

  • November 3, 2012
  • 08:04 PM

Meteorological factors and autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

If I had a pound (inflation adjusted y'know) for every time the words 'correlation does not equal causation' were used with autism and related conditions in mind, my piggy bank would probably be rather full by now. Indeed such is the application of this term when referring to the wide (very wide) variety of associations made between this, that and t'other, that a backlash has seemingly emerged to counter its usage as per this Slate article. Cool, clear water @ Wikipedia Of course that's not........ Read more »

Sophie St Hilaire, Victor Ezike, Henrik Stryhn, & Michael A Thomas. (2012) An ecological study on childhood autism. International Journal of Health Geographics. info:/

  • November 1, 2012
  • 08:17 PM

That recent metabolomics study on autism (part 2)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Consider this a part-two to my previous post introducing the paper from Dr Xue Ming and colleagues* on metabolomics, amino acids and gut bacteria with autism in mind. It's going to be another micropost (sort of!) given that quite a bit of the background has already been discussed previously.So straight to the paper:As expected, the study from Yap and colleagues** (including Prof. Nicholson) was the template for undertaking this study.Spot urine samples were collected from 48 children diagno........ Read more »

  • November 1, 2012
  • 06:16 AM

More sulphate and autism research (at last)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I've mentioned my interest in sulphation (sulfation) and autism in previous posts and how it always seemed like a real shame that the work of Rosemary Waring and others was never really followed up with any great enthusiasm.To those who might not know about the whole autism-sulphate story, it goes something like this: higher levels of urinary sulphate (and related metabolites) detected accompanied by increased protein excretion in autism compared to controls. Plasma levels of sulphate ........ Read more »

  • October 31, 2012
  • 12:45 PM

More metabolomics, amino acids, gut bacteria and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Here he goes again" I hear you say as today's micro-post focuses on a rather interesting paper from Xue Ming and colleagues* which, and I quote, "detected abnormal amino acid metabolism, increased oxidative stress, and altered gut microbiomes in ASD".Ur-inal or mine? @ Wikipedia  The name of the game was a favourite -omics of mine, metabolomics (see this recent post for a brief overview) and in particular how the appliance of some really quite powerful science to urine specimens provided b........ Read more »

  • October 30, 2012
  • 10:58 AM

Parent-led early intervention and autism: what's going on?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I do love my quotes on this blog. So another quote to begin this post: "Parent-implemented intervention studies for early ASD thus far have not demonstrated the large effects seen in intensive-treatment studies".It comes from quite a recent study by Sally Rogers and colleagues* examining "the efficacy of a 12-week, low-intensity (1-hour/wk of therapist contact), parent-delivered intervention for toddlers at risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) aged 14 to 24 months and their families". T........ Read more »

  • October 28, 2012
  • 03:12 PM

Cerebral palsy and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I seem to keep saying this but one of the many important things about autism is that the diagnosis of autism has not yet been found to be protective against other conditions occurring alongside. This is probably not new news to many as per the comorbities which have been, and continue to be found in cases of autism; recognised even by official guidance on autism (see here).Importantly however in recent times, more attention is being directed to the overlap of autism with other conditions an........ Read more »

Surén P, Bakken IJ, Aase H, Chin R, Gunnes N, Lie KK, Magnus P, Reichborn-Kjennerud T, Schjølberg S, Øyen AS.... (2012) Autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, epilepsy, and cerebral palsy in Norwegian children. Pediatrics, 130(1). PMID: 22711729  

  • October 25, 2012
  • 05:53 PM

Allergic and autoimmune diseases and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Comorbidity is quite a big topic of interest to me. Specifically comorbidity when talking about autism or schizophrenia or quite a few other behaviourally-defined conditions.Venn-ting @ Wikipedia The reason for my interest? Well let's just say that although many a textbook so report, autism for example is not just the sum of its triad (soon to be dyad) of symptoms but much, much more.That and the fact that based on the current data as it stands, a diagnosis of autism is seemingly protective........ Read more »

  • October 24, 2012
  • 04:50 AM

More autism developmental trajectory research

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Bloomers. No not the clothing variety, but the group described by Christine Fountain and colleagues* (open-access) in their paper on developmental trajectories in autism covered in this post. The bloomers grouping describing a specific group of children with autism who "experienced rapid gains, moving from severely affected to high functioning".Crateva religiosa @ Wikipedia  The whole idea of looking at children in the here and now and trying to predict where they will be in X years time se........ Read more »

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