Paul Whiteley

378 posts · 109,060 views

Autism research, research blogging and health science stuff (picture is accurate)

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  • September 15, 2014
  • 04:47 AM
  • 25 views

Zinc and copper and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Li and colleagues [1] looking at serum copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) levels in a group of participants diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the source material for today's post. Highlighting how "mean serum Zn levels and Zn/Cu ratio were significantly lower in children with ASD compared with normal cases... whereas serum Cu levels were significantly higher" the continued focus on the metallome in autism carries on at a pace. I should at this point out that I'm not in........ Read more »

  • September 12, 2014
  • 11:47 AM
  • 55 views

Insulin, growth hormone and risk of schizophrenia?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Overall, the present findings suggest that metabolic and hormonal disturbances such as effects on insulin and growth hormone may represent a vulnerability factor to develop mental disorders". That was the conclusion reported by van Beveren and colleagues [1] (open-access) looking at "disruption of insulin and growth factor signaling pathways as an increased risk factor for schizophrenia"."Years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars"Drawing on data derived from participants taking part in&n........ Read more »

  • September 11, 2014
  • 09:55 AM
  • 83 views

Treating autism in the first year of life

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I had been waiting y'know. Waiting a while for the paper by Sally Rogers and colleagues [1] to finally appear quite a few days after the media headlines about 'reducing', 'reversing' and even 'eliminating' the signs and symptoms of autism in early infancy had appeared. Personally, I prefer the New Scientist headline: 'Early autism intervention speeds infant development' given the text of the paper. I should perhaps also add the words 'for some' to that sentence as you will hopefully see...I........ Read more »

S. J. Rogers, L. Vismara, A. L. Wagner, C. McCormick, G. Young, & S. Ozonoff. (2014) Autism Treatment in the First Year of Life: A Pilot Study of Infant Start, a Parent-Implemented Intervention for Symptomatic Infants. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. info:/10.1007/s10803-014-2202-y

  • September 11, 2014
  • 04:42 AM
  • 73 views

Omega-3 fatty acids rescues Fragile X phenotypes in Fmr1-Ko mice

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"These results demonstrate that n-3 PUFAs dietary supplementation, although not a panacea, has a considerable therapeutic value for FXS [Fragile X syndrome] and potentially for ASD [autism spectrum disorder], suggesting a major mediating role of neuroinflammatory mechanisms".A view @ Wikipedia That was the conclusion reached by Susanna Pietropaolo and colleagues [1] who "evaluated the impact of n-3 PUFA dietary supplementation in a mouse model of fragile X syndrome ........ Read more »

Pietropaolo S, Goubran MG, Joffre C, Aubert A, Lemaire-Mayo V, Crusio WE, & Layé S. (2014) Dietary supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids rescues fragile X phenotypes in Fmr1-Ko mice. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 119-129. PMID: 25080404  

  • September 10, 2014
  • 05:01 AM
  • 52 views

Donepezil and D-cycloserine rescue behaviours in VPA exposed animals

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

In a post not-so-long-ago I talked about an interesting piece of research by Ahn and colleagues [1] suggesting that a ketogenic diet might yet hold some promise to "modify complex social behaviors and mitochondrial respiration" affected in the "prenatal valproic acid (VPA) rodent model of ASD [autism spectrum disorder]". The idea being that exposure to valproic acid (valproate) during the nine months that made us might carry some heightened risk for adverse effects on offspring development (see ........ Read more »

  • September 9, 2014
  • 04:35 AM
  • 69 views

The gondii and generalised anxiety disorder

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) has been absent from discussions on this blog for a while now. I'm going to remedy that today with this post talking about the paper from Markovitz and colleagues [1] who concluded: "T. gondii infection may play a role in the development of GAD [generalized anxiety disorder]"."You have saved our lives. We are eternally grateful"Based on participants taking part in the Detroit Neighborhood Health Study exposure to T. gondii "defined by seropositivity a........ Read more »

Markovitz A, Simanek AM, Yolken R, Galea S, Koenen KC, Chen S, & Aiello AE. (2014) Toxoplasma gondii and anxiety disorders in a community-based sample. Brain, behavior, and immunity. PMID: 25124709  

  • September 8, 2014
  • 04:22 AM
  • 67 views

Homocysteine, MTHFR and schizophrenia studied AND meta-analysed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Our study suggests that increased plasma total homocysteine levels may be associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia". Further: "The meta-analysis of the Japanese genetic association studies demonstrated a significant association between the MTHFR C677T polymorphism and schizophrenia".MTHFR (again!) @ Paul WhiteleySo said the results of the study and meta-analysis carried out by Akira Nishi and colleagues [1] (open-access) looking at the 'big H' alongside everyone's genetic Scrabbl........ Read more »

  • September 5, 2014
  • 05:04 AM
  • 101 views

Extremes of a self-limiting diet in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'll draw your attention to three papers in today's post which represent the extremes of where self-imposed dietary restrictions can potentially lead in relation to the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Issues with diet - outside of use of diet as an intervention measure - are something which have been talked about quite a bit in the autism research literature (see here)."You look like a gangster"The first paper by Baird & Ravindranath [1] describes a case report of an 11-year old with ........ Read more »

Baird JS, & Ravindranath TM. (2014) Vitamin B Deficiencies in a Critically Ill Autistic Child With a Restricted Diet. Nutrition in clinical practice : official publication of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition. PMID: 25112945  

Gulko E, Collins LK, Murphy RC, Thornhill BA, & Taragin BH. (2014) MRI findings in pediatric patients with scurvy. Skeletal radiology. PMID: 25109378  

  • September 4, 2014
  • 04:51 AM
  • 81 views

Epigenetic processes and autism: focusing on immune function?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Although the title of this post talks about the science of epigenetics in autism, I'm actually going to be talking about two papers today, one of which also covers exposure to prenatal immune activation and what effect that might have on epigenetic processes in the mouse brain. This may also be relevant to at least some autism..."Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy. And ideas are bulletproof"First off we have the paper from Nardone and colleagues [1] (open-access) which, following som........ Read more »

Nardone, S., Sharan Sams, D., Reuveni, E., Getselter, D., Oron, O., Karpuj, M., & Elliott, E. (2014) DNA methylation analysis of the autistic brain reveals multiple dysregulated biological pathways. Translational Psychiatry, 4(9). DOI: 10.1038/tp.2014.70  

  • September 3, 2014
  • 04:36 AM
  • 81 views

An observation-based classifier for rapid detection of autism risk

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Keep clear of the moors"Among the many researchers and research groups admired on this blog for their contribution to the world of autism research, the name Dennis Wall is fast becoming a real favourite. Aside from mention of the words 'systems biology' in his profile at Stanford University, I'm particularly interested in the way the Wall research group are looking at trying to apply machine-learning approaches to things like autism assessment.I've covered a few of their past research reports w........ Read more »

M Duda, J A Kosmicki, & D P Wall. (2014) Testing the accuracy of an observation-based classifier for rapid detection of autism risk. Translational Psychiatry. info:/10.1038/tp.2014.65

  • September 2, 2014
  • 04:33 AM
  • 103 views

The epigenetics of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"These data are consistent with evidence of multisystem dysregulation in CFS [Chronic Fatigue Syndrome] and implicate the involvement of DNA modifications in CFS pathology". So said the paper by Wilfred de Vega and colleagues [1] (open-access here) which, I think, represents a bit of a first for CFS with their examination of the possible role of epigenetic modifications in relation to the condition(s) [2].Ladies first @ Wikipedia I have to say that I was really quite excited ........ Read more »

  • September 1, 2014
  • 03:32 AM
  • 89 views

Lithium for mood disorder symptoms in autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Modern classroom? @ Wikipedia The paper published by Matthew Siegel and colleagues [1] talking about some preliminary observations on the use of lithium where symptoms of mood disorder might be present in cases of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) caught my eye recently. Concluding that: "lithium may be a medication of interest for those who exhibit two or more mood disorder symptoms, particularly mania or euphoria/elevated mood" the sentiments of more research-to-do in this area presents........ Read more »

Siegel M, Beresford CA, Bunker M, Verdi M, Vishnevetsky D, Karlsson C, Teer O, Stedman A, & Smith KA. (2014) Preliminary Investigation of Lithium for Mood Disorder Symptoms in Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of child and adolescent psychopharmacology. PMID: 25093602  

  • August 30, 2014
  • 03:34 AM
  • 96 views

Under-recognised co-occurring conditions in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A brief post to direct you to the paper by Nicolaidis and colleagues [1] talking about primary care for adults on the autism spectrum and mention of an issue quite important to this blog: "the recognition of associated conditions"."When 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not".Alongside the announcement of what seems like an interesting workshop organised by the US IACC (Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee) titled: "IACC Workshop on Under-Recognized Co-Occurring Condit........ Read more »

Nicolaidis C, Kripke CC, & Raymaker D. (2014) Primary Care for Adults on the Autism Spectrum. The Medical clinics of North America, 98(5), 1169-1191. PMID: 25134878  

  • August 29, 2014
  • 03:52 AM
  • 139 views

Oxytocin and autism: the hype?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Consider some excerpts from two recent papers looking at oxytocin (OXT) - the "love hormone"(!) - and the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs)...“It’s not the years, honey. It’s the mileage”"These findings indicate that dysregulated OXT biology is not uniquely associated with ASD social phenotypes as widely theorized, but instead variation in OXT biology contributes to important individual differences in human social functioning, including the severe social impairments which characterize ASD........ Read more »

Parker, K., Garner, J., Libove, R., Hyde, S., Hornbeak, K., Carson, D., Liao, C., Phillips, J., Hallmayer, J., & Hardan, A. (2014) Plasma oxytocin concentrations and OXTR polymorphisms predict social impairments in children with and without autism spectrum disorder. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1402236111  

Guastella AJ, Gray KM, Rinehart NJ, Alvares GA, Tonge BJ, Hickie IB, Keating CM, Cacciotti-Saija C, & Einfeld SL. (2014) The effects of a course of intranasal oxytocin on social behaviors in youth diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines. PMID: 25087908  

  • August 28, 2014
  • 04:29 AM
  • 123 views

Minocycline for schizophrenia?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Minocycline may improve the psychopathology of schizophrenia, especially the negative symptoms, and seems to be well tolerated".A Bachelors Drawer (apparently) @ Wikipedia That was the finding from the systematic review and meta-analysis undertaken by Oya and colleagues [1] looking at the collected literature on the use of "minocycline augmentation therapy in patients with schizophrenia receiving antipsychotic agents". Augmentation therapy by the way, refers to the addition of minocycline ........ Read more »

  • August 27, 2014
  • 03:56 AM
  • 137 views

Prenatal SSRI exposure and autistic traits

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A quote to start today's post: "Our results suggest an association between prenatal SSRI exposure and autistic traits in children". That was a primary finding reported by Hanan El Marroun and colleagues [1] who looked at whether maternal depressive symptoms or a class of quite commonly used pharmaceutics - the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) - used to manage depressive symptoms, during pregnancy might impact on offspring development."Everything the light touches is our kingd........ Read more »

  • August 26, 2014
  • 03:55 AM
  • 109 views

76% of youths with autism meet ADHD diagnostic criteria?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Autism is not normally a stand-alone diagnosis. I've mentioned that point a few times on this blog, stressing how a clinical diagnosis of autism appears to increase the risk of various other behavioural, psychiatric and somatic diagnoses also [variably] being present over a lifetime. Part of that comorbidity has been talked about in discussions about ESSENCE (see here) and the excellent document produced by Treating Autism on medical comorbidities occurring alongside autism (see here) for exampl........ Read more »

  • August 25, 2014
  • 04:40 AM
  • 121 views

mTOR-regulated autophagy and autism mouse models

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I was intrigued to read the paper by Guomei Tang and colleagues [1] (open-access) and their assertion that: "mTOR [mammalian target of rapamycin]-regulated autophagy is required for developmental spine pruning, and activation of neuronal autophagy corrects synaptic pathology and social behavior deficits in ASD [autism spectrum disorder] models with hyperactivated mTOR"."Re-verify our range to target... one ping only".If that opening paragraph sounds like scientific gibberish,........ Read more »

Tang, G., Gudsnuk, K., Kuo, S., Cotrina, M., Rosoklija, G., Sosunov, A., Sonders, M., Kanter, E., Castagna, C., Yamamoto, A.... (2014) Loss of mTOR-Dependent Macroautophagy Causes Autistic-like Synaptic Pruning Deficits. Neuron. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.07.040  

  • August 23, 2014
  • 01:47 PM
  • 122 views

You heard me right... autism prevalence and meat consumption

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The paper presents some exploratory analyses demonstrating the correlation between particular aspects of meat consumption and autism prevalence". The paper by Wojciech & Ewa Pisula [1] (open-access) does indeed suggest that there may "a correlation between increasing meat consumption and autism prevalence"."Goonies never say die!"Readers are invited to draw their own conclusions on such a correlation. Personally, I'm not yet convinced that meat consumption is the primary driving force ........ Read more »

Wojciech Pisula, & Ewa Pisula. (2014) Autism prevalence and meat consumption - a hypothesis that needs to be tested. Medical Hypotheses. info:/10.1016/j.mehy.2014.08.007

  • August 22, 2014
  • 03:47 AM
  • 123 views

Serum microRNA profiles and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I cannot pretend to be an expert on microRNA (miRNA). Indeed, it was only after reading the paper by Mahesh Mundalil Vasu and colleagues [1] (open-access) talking about serum microRNA profiles in children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), that I started my learning journey about these small non-coding RNAs. So please, go easy with me on this one...Hamlet @ Wikipedia Quite a good [short] introduction to microRNAs can be found here. If you want something a littl........ Read more »

Mundalil Vasu, M., Anitha, A., Thanseem, I., Suzuki, K., Yamada, K., Takahashi, T., Wakuda, T., Iwata, K., Tsujii, M., Sugiyama, T.... (2014) Serum microRNA profiles in children with autism. Molecular Autism, 5(1), 40. DOI: 10.1186/2040-2392-5-40  

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