Posts

March 27, 2015

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10:02 AM | Inflammation impairs social cognitive processing
A quote to begin: "acute inflammation can lead to decreases in the ability to accurately and reliably comprehend emotional information from others."It comes from the article published by Mona Moieni and colleagues [1] who examined a concept familiar to many people with a connection to autism either personally or professionally: Theory of Mind (ToM). Rather interestingly, Moieni et al "examined whether exposure to an experimental inflammatory challenge led to changes in ToM." […]

Moieni M, Irwin MR, Jevtic I, Breen EC & Eisenberger NI (2015). Inflammation impairs social cognitive processing: a randomized controlled trial of endotoxin., Brain, behavior, and immunity, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25770082

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March 26, 2015

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11:39 AM | Autism increases risk of nonaffective psychotic disorder and bipolar disorder
Published at the same time and in the same journal as the 'MoBa does bowel issues in autism' paper from Bresnahan and colleagues [1], the study results from Jean-Paul Selten et al [2] reporting that "A diagnosis of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] is associated with a substantially increased risk for NAPD [nonaffective psychotic disorder] and BD [bipolar disorder]" has, at the time of writing this post, received little or no press attention in comparison despite […]

Selten JP, Lundberg M, Rai D & Magnusson C (2015). Risks for Nonaffective Psychotic Disorder and Bipolar Disorder in Young People With Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Population-Based Study., JAMA psychiatry, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25806797

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March 25, 2015

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9:57 PM | MoBa does bowel issues in autism
'MoBa' in the title of this post, refers to the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study and a handy resource which has already impacted on autism research (see here for example).Now MoBa has turned its epidemiological clout to an issue which less and less is encountering scientific resistance: are gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms over-represented when it comes to a diagnosis of autism? Further, when do such bowel issues start to present?The answer, shown in the paper by Michaeline […]

Bresnahan, M., Hornig, M., Schultz, A., Gunnes, N., Hirtz, D., Lie, K., Magnus, P., Reichborn-Kjennerud, T., Roth, C., Schjølberg, S. & Stoltenberg, C. (2015). Association of Maternal Report of Infant and Toddler Gastrointestinal Symptoms With Autism, JAMA Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.3034

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9:33 AM | Autism and depression: interlinked?
"A possible implication is that interventions aimed at either autism symptoms or symptoms of depression may improve the other."That was the intriguing statement made by Per Normann Andersen and colleagues [1] who "investigated the course of and association among changes in autism symptoms, depression symptoms and executive functions (EF) in children with high-functioning autism (HFA)." Aside from frowning a little at the mention of the concept of 'high-functioning' I assume to denote those […]

Andersen PN, Skogli EW, Hovik KT, Egeland J & Øie M (2015). Associations Among Symptoms of Autism, Symptoms of Depression and Executive Functions in Children with High-Functioning Autism: A 2 Year Follow-Up Study., Journal of autism and developmental disorders, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25763986

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March 24, 2015

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9:37 AM | More extremes of a limiting diet and autism
In a previous post a while back, I discussed some examples in the peer-reviewed literature of where a self-limiting diet in the extreme can lead to with autism in mind. Today, I'm adding a further example of what food faddism might mean, to further forward the point that "a low threshold for vitamin level testing should be undertaken in autistic spectrum disorder cases, highlighting the importance of enquiring about dietary habits."That last quote comes from the paper in question by Emma […]

Duignan, E., Kenna, P., Watson, R., Fitzsimon, S. & Brosnahan, D. (2015). Ophthalmic Manifestations of Vitamin A and D Deficiency in Two Autistic Teenagers: Case Reports and a Review of the Literature, Case Reports in Ophthalmology, 6 (1) 24-29. DOI: 10.1159/000373921

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March 23, 2015

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9:48 AM | Early life probiotics reducing the risk of subsequent neuropsychiatric disorder?
With my continued interest in all-things gut microbiome on this blog (see here for example) it is little wonder that I was taken to blog about the study findings from Anna Pärtty and colleagues [1] reporting that: "Probiotic supplementation early in life may reduce the risk of neuropsychiatric disorder development later in childhood." Probiotic by the way, refers to various 'live' organisms (bacteria, yeasts) thought to confer some positive effect on health and/or wellbeing.Not only does […]

Pärtty A, Kalliomäki M, Wacklin P, Salminen S & Isolauri E (2015). A possible link between early probiotic intervention and the risk of neuropsychiatric disorders later in childhood - a randomized trial., Pediatric research, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25760553

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March 21, 2015

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8:22 AM | Toxoplasma gondii and schizophrenia (again and again)
The findings reported by Ainsah Omar and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) adding further weight to the notion of a "strong association between the active Tg [Toxoplasma gondii] infection and schizophrenia" are set out for your reading consumption today.Continuing a research topic that has already enjoyed quite a bit of air time on this blog (see here and see here) whereby the parasite T. gondii known to cause the condition toxoplasmosis might also be […]

Omar A, Bakar OC, Adam NF, Osman H, Osman A, Suleiman AH, Manaf MR & Selamat MI (2015). Seropositivity and Serointensity of Toxoplasma gondii Antibodies and DNA among Patients with Schizophrenia., The Korean journal of parasitology, 53 (1) 29-34. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25748706

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March 20, 2015

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7:50 AM | Autism genes and cognitive ability
Autism IS linked to higher intelligence: People with genes related to the condition 'scored better in mental ability tests' was one of the media headlines reporting on the study by Toni-Kim Clarke and colleagues [1].Clarke et al reported results based on a pretty good sample size (in the thousands) whereby autism-associated genes and cognitive ability were examined in several cohorts including those taking part in The Generation Scotland : Scottish Family Health Study […]

March 19, 2015

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10:05 AM | Objective measures of sleep in autism meta-analysed
"Children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] have small but measurable objective differences in their sleep parameters that are consistent with subjective reporting."That was the main conclusion reached in the meta-analysis from Marilisa Elrod and Bradley Hood [1] who looked at the collected peer-reviewed data "that used objective measures such as actigraphy or polysomnography (PSG) to describe the sleep parameters of TST [total sleep time], SL [sleep latency], and […]

Elrod, M. & Hood, B. (2015). Sleep Differences Among Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders and Typically Developing Peers, Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 1. DOI: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000140

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March 18, 2015

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9:52 AM | The label of autism rarely exists in a diagnostic vacuum
"Most young ASD [autism spectrum disorder] children met the criteria for additional psychopathology." That was the primary conclusion reported by Fernando Salazar and colleagues [1].At the risk of sounding like a broken record going on and on about how the diagnosis/label of autism very rarely exists in a diagnostic vacuum when it comes to comorbidity, I did think it important that the findings of Salazar et al were [briefly] brought to your attention. I've talked a few times on […]

Salazar, F., Baird, G., Chandler, S., Tseng, E., O’sullivan, T., Howlin, P., Pickles, A. & Simonoff, E. (2015). Co-occurring Psychiatric Disorders in Preschool and Elementary School-Aged Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, DOI: 10.1007/s10803-015-2361-5

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March 17, 2015

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10:13 AM | Psychotic symptoms managed by a gluten-free diet?
The case report detailed by William Eaton and colleagues [1] illustrating how a gluten-free diet might not just be the treatment of choice for the autoimmune condition coeliac (celiac) disease is served up for your consumption today.The authors report the story of 'Chris' an 8-year old boy who experienced various symptoms including "intermittent auditory and visual hallucinations" then moving later in his life to being hospitalised and eventually diagnosed with "major depressive disorder […]

Eaton, W., Chen, L., Dohan, F., Kelly, D. & Cascella, N. (2015). Improvement in Psychotic Symptoms After a Gluten-Free Diet in a Boy With Complex Autoimmune Illness, American Journal of Psychiatry, 172 (3) 219-221. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2014.14040550

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March 16, 2015

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9:37 AM | Decreased plasma levels of lipoxin A4 in autism
The paper by Chun-Lin Yan and colleagues [1] talking about significantly lower plasma levels of lipoxin A4 (LXA4) "a mediator involved in the resolution of inflammation" in cases of childhood autism is the point of discussions today.Continuing an important theme of immune system involvement in at least some cases of autism, Yan et al focused on a less well-trodden path looking at lipoxins that seem to be involved in something of a yin and yang relationship with another set […]

Yan CL, Zhang J & Hou Y (2015). Decreased plasma levels of lipoxin A4 in children with autism spectrum disorders., Neuroreport, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25714424

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March 14, 2015

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10:10 AM | Boiling down ADOS for autism detection (again)
Today I want to direct your attention to the paper by Kosmicki and colleagues [1] (open-access) reporting that the use of "machine learning algorithms" could help "streamline ASD [autism spectrum disorder] risk detection and screening."Regular readers of this blog might have already cottoned on to the fact that any talk about applying "computational and statistical methods" to autism screening and/or diagnosis can really mean only one person and research group: Dennis Wall from […]

Kosmicki JA, Sochat V, Duda M & Wall DP (2015). Searching for a minimal set of behaviors for autism detection through feature selection-based machine learning., Translational psychiatry, 5 PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25710120

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March 13, 2015

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9:42 AM | Individualised medicine and autism: a brave new world
Pharmacogenetics: "the study of inherited genetic differences in drug metabolic pathways which can affect individual responses to drugs, both in terms of therapeutic effect as well as adverse effects."Having recently watched a rather interesting documentary on the BBC titled 'Can you cure my cancer?' illustrating how the era of personalised medicine is here and now (see here) in at least one aspect of medicine, I was really quite interested in the science of how our genes might affect our […]

Smith T, Sharp S, Manzardo AM & Butler MG (2015). Pharmacogenetics Informed Decision Making in Adolescent Psychiatric Treatment: A Clinical Case Report., International journal of molecular sciences, 16 (3) 4416-4428. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25710722

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March 12, 2015

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9:49 AM | More evidence for non-coeliac gluten sensitivity?
"In a cross-over trial of subjects with suspected NCGS [non-coeliac gluten sensitivity], the severity of overall symptoms increased significantly during 1 week of intake of small amounts of gluten, compared with placebo."That was the conclusion reached in the study by Antonio Di Sabatino and colleagues [1] who applied the gold standard research methodology - "a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial" - to studying the effects of small amounts of gluten on those […]

Di Sabatino A, Volta U, Salvatore C, Biancheri P, Caio G, De Giorgio R, Di Stefano M & Corazza GR (2015). Small Amounts of Gluten in Subjects with Suspected Nonceliac Gluten Sensitivity: a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Cross-Over Trial., Clinical gastroenterology and hepatology : the official clinical practice journal of the American Gastroenterological Association, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25701700

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March 11, 2015

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9:47 AM | Intimate partner abuse and risk of offspring autism
I want to be slightly careful when discussing the conclusion reached in the paper by Andrea Roberts and colleagues [1] that: "autism spectrum disorder risk was increased in children of women who reported fear of partner or sexual, emotional, or physical abuse in the 2 years before the birth year."Careful not only because correlation has an uncanny habit of being translated into causation for some people (they are not one and the same thing) and how this combines when one interprets the […]

March 10, 2015

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9:34 AM | Microbes passing traits to host babies?
The paper by Clara Moon and colleagues [1] has garnered a lot of headlines with their findings suggesting that [mouse] mothers pass on bacteria to their [mouse] offspring. Their results reported in Nature, focused on a bacterium not unfamiliar to this blog, Sutterella (see here) and how, through the transmission of Sutterella via their poo(p), a specific trait might also be passed on. In this case, low levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA) (something else that has cropped up on this blog) were noted […]

Moon C, Baldridge MT, Wallace MA, Burnham CA, Virgin HW & Stappenbeck TS (2015). Vertically transmitted faecal IgA levels determine extra-chromosomal phenotypic variation., Nature, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25686606

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March 09, 2015

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7:44 AM | Mercury, autism and mitochondrial dysfunction?
Appreciating that to mention the words 'mercury and autism' in the same sentence can lead to furrowed brows and invoke eye-rolling in some quarters, I don't want to shy away from the results reported by Shannon Rose and colleagues [1] (open-access here) and their suggestion that: "the epidemiological link between environmental mercury exposure and an increased risk of developing autism may be mediated through mitochondrial dysfunction". Further that their result: "support the notion that a […]

Rose, S., Wynne, R., Frye, R., Melnyk, S. & James, S. (2015). Increased Susceptibility to Ethylmercury-Induced Mitochondrial Dysfunction in a Subset of Autism Lymphoblastoid Cell Lines, Journal of Toxicology, 2015 1-13. DOI: 10.1155/2015/573701

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March 07, 2015

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8:48 AM | Systemic Integral Disorder: linking autism and schizophrenia?
Martial arts gradings call for my brood today (and well they should) so I'm gonna be fairly brief and introduce the paper by Haoran George Wang and colleagues [1] for your reading pleasure today alongside the concept of 'Systemic Integral Disorder' (SID) as a potential bridge between the diagnoses of autism and schizophrenia.I'm always a bit wary of grand over-arching theories or universal conceptual 'break-throughs' when it comes to autism simply because the inevitable hype which follows […]

Wang HG, Jeffries JJ & Wang TF (2015). Genetic and Developmental Perspective of Language Abnormality in Autism and Schizophrenia: One Disease Occurring at Different Ages in Humans?, The Neuroscientist : a review journal bringing neurobiology, neurology and psychiatry, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25686622

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March 06, 2015

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10:20 AM | Hypovitaminosis D is frequent in Down's syndrome
"Hypovitaminosis D is very frequent in DS [Down's syndrome] subjects, in particular in presence of obesity and autoimmune diseases."That was the conclusion reached in the study by Stefano Stagi and colleagues [1] (open-access here) based on an analysis of their small participant group diagnosed with Down's syndrome looking at vitamin D status among other things. The comment about obesity potentially exacerbating vitamin D deficiency ties in well with another paper […]

March 05, 2015

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11:39 AM | Autism, heritability and 'proof of principle' genomic biomarkers
JAMA Psychiatry published a number of interesting articles recently, some of which have grabbed media headlines. "Autism is largely down to genes, twin study suggests" went the BBC headline covering the paper by Emma Colvert and colleagues [1] who, based on an analysis of twin pairs as part of TEDS (Twins Early Development Study), concluded that: "The liability to ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and a more broadly defined high-level autism trait phenotype in this large population-based […]
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9:49 AM | Persistent hyperlactacidemia in cases of autism
The paper from José Guevara-Campos and colleagues [1] (open-access can be downloaded here) is fodder for today's short post, and a topic that has not been seen on this blog for quite a while: hyperlactacidemia (elevated plasma lactate levels) and autism.Previous mentions of lactate and autism on this blog (see here and see here) were potentially pretty important; specifically, how elevated plasma lactate levels might (a) not be an unfamiliar finding for quite a few people on […]

Guevara-Campos J, González-Guevara L & Cauli O (2015). Autism and Intellectual Disability Associated with Mitochondrial Disease and Hyperlactacidemia., International journal of molecular sciences, 16 (2) 3870-3884. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25679448

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March 04, 2015

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9:41 AM | Asthma and autism: a spanner in the works?
As happens so many times in autism research, spanners are thrown in works. Take the paper from Ousseny Zerbo and colleagues [1] who concluded that: "children with autism have elevated prevalence of specific immune-related comorbidities". Nothing surprising about that finding based on the volumes of other research which seemed to have reached similar conclusions (see here).Then the spanner: "asthma was diagnosed significantly less often" in autism cases compared with asymptomatic controls. […]

Zerbo O, Leong A, Barcellos L, Bernal P, Fireman B & Croen LA (2015). Immune Mediated Conditions in Autism Spectrum Disorders., Brain, behavior, and immunity, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25681541

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March 03, 2015

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10:19 AM | Schizophrenia and the risk of fractures
The systematic review and meta-analysis published by Brendon Stubbs and colleagues [1] provides some food for thought for healthcare providers and others looking at the wider implications following a diagnosis of schizophrenia. "People with schizophrenia are at significantly increased risk of fractures" was the conclusion reached based on the collected analysis of tens of thousands of people diagnosed with schizophrenia compared with nearly 4 million controls.My immediate thought (and tweet) […]

March 02, 2015

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9:49 AM | Systemic low grade inflammation and bowel issues in autism?
The paper from Katarina Babinská and colleagues [1] (open-access here) presents an interesting, if preliminary take on two potentially important issues linked to at least some cases of autism: gastrointestinal (GI) issues and inflammation (see here and see here respectively).Detailing the examination of plasma levels of a compound called high mobility group box 1 protein (HMGB1), a protein which has the apparent ability to 'bend DNA' and has some pretty potent immune effects [2] […]

Babinská K, Bucová M, Ďurmanová V, Lakatošová S, Jánošíková D, Bakoš J, Hlavatá A & Ostatníková D (2015). Increased plasma levels of the high mobility group box 1 protein (HMGB1) are associated with a higher score of gastrointestinal dysfunction in individuals with autism., Physiological research / Academia Scientiarum Bohemoslovaca, 63 Suppl 4 8. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25669692

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March 01, 2015

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8:52 AM | Vitamin D status affecting autoimmune disease risk?
I want to bring the paper from Tea Skaaby and colleagues [1] to your attention for today's brief blog post and their observation that there may be: "a possible protective role of a higher vitamin D status on autoimmune disease". Autoimmune disease by the way, reflects a breakdown in communication and tolerance of 'self' whereby the body attacks healthy tissue.Their findings, based on an analysis of "a total of 12,555 individuals from three population-based studies with measurements of […]

Skaaby T, Husemoen LL, Thuesen BH & Linneberg A (2015). Prospective population-based study of the association between vitamin D status and incidence of autoimmune disease., Endocrine, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25666936

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