Autism Research

How Different Are Girls and Boys Above and Below the Diagnostic Threshold for Autism Spectrum Disorders?

Source: 
Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Date Published: 
August 2012
Abstract: 

A study finds that despite showing similar autistic traits, girls are less likely than boys to meet diagnostic criteria for ASD if no other intellectual or behavioral issues are present. The authors suggest the results might reflect biased diagnosis or better adaptation in girls.

Derivation of Autism Spectrum Disorder-specific Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells from Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells

Source: 
Neuroscience Letters
Date Published: 
May 10, 2012
Abstract: 

"Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) hold tremendous potential both as a biological tool to uncover the pathophysiology of disease by creating relevant cell models and as a source of stem cells for cell-based therapeutic applications. Typically, iPSCs have been derived by the transgenic overexpression of transcription factors associated with progenitor cell or stem cell function in fibroblasts derived from skin biopsies. However, the need for skin punch biopsies to derive fibroblasts for reprogramming can present a barrier to study participation among certain populations of individuals, including children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). In addition, the acquisition of skin punch biopsies in non-clinic settings presents a challenge. One potential mechanism to avoid these limitations would be the use of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) as the source of the cells for reprogramming. In this article we describe, for the first time, the derivation of iPSC lines from PBMCs isolated from the whole blood of autistic children, and their subsequent differentiation in GABAergic neurons."

Neonatal Levels of Cytokines and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Exploratory Register-based Historic Birth Cohort Study Utilizing the Danish Newborn Screening Biobank

Source: 
Journal of Neuroimmunology
Date Published: 
November 15, 2012
Abstract: 

"The aim of the study was to analyze cytokine profiles in neonatal dried blood samples (n-DBSS) retrieved from The Danish Newborn Screening Biobank of children developing Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) later in life and controls. Samples of 359 ASD cases and 741 controls were analyzed using Luminex xMAP technology and clinical data were retrieved from nationwide registers. Findings showed that children developing ASD were more likely to have decreased levels of both T helper-1(Th-1)-like cytokines (i.e. IFN-γ) and Th-2like cytokines (i.e. IL-4, IL-10) which may suggest a depressed or hypoactive immune cell activity during neonatal period in ASD."

Design of a Virtual Reality Based Adaptive Response Technology for Children with Autism

Source: 
IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering
Date Published: 
January 4, 2013
Abstract: 

Results from this preliminary study suggest that an interactive virtual reality game can improve social communication skills in teens with ASD.

Modeling an Autism Risk Factor in Mice Leads to Permanent Immune Dysregulation

Source: 
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Date Published: 
July 31, 2012
Abstract: 

"Increasing evidence highlights a role for the immune system in the pathogenesis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as immune dysregulation is observed in the brain, periphery, and gastrointestinal tract of ASD individuals. Furthermore, maternal infection (maternal immune activation, MIA) is a risk factor for ASD. Modeling this risk factor in mice yields offspring with the cardinal behavioral and neuropathological symptoms of human ASD."

Placental Regulation of Maternal-fetal Interactions and Brain Development

Source: 
Developmental Neurobiology
Date Published: 
August 23, 2012
Abstract: 

"A variety prenatal insults are associated with the incidence of neurodevelopmental disorders such as schizophrenia, autism and cerebral palsy. While the precise mechanisms underlying how transient gestational challenges can lead to later life dysfunctions are largely unknown, the placenta is likely to play a key role. The literal interface between maternal and fetal cells resides in the placenta, and disruptions to the maternal or intrauterine environment are necessarily conveyed to the developing embryo via the placenta. Placental cells bear the responsibility of promoting maternal tolerance of the semiallogeneic fetus and regulating selective permeability of nutrients, gases, and antibodies, while still providing physiological protection of the embryo from adversity. The placenta's critical role in modulating immune protection and the availability of nutrients and endocrine factors to the offspring implicates its involvement in autoimmunity, growth restriction and hypoxia, all factors associated with the development of neurological complications. In this review, we summarize primary maternal-fetal interactions that occur in the placenta and describe pathways by which maternal insults can impair these processes and disrupt fetal brain development. We also review emerging evidence for placental dysfunction in the prenatal programming of neurodevelopmental disorders."

Age at Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Source: 
Journal of Pediatrics
Date Published: 
June 9, 2012
Abstract: 

"Early identification of autism has become a national priority but, despite efforts, there are children who are being identified at a later age. In this study, children of Hispanic and African American origin, foreign-born children, and children born to foreign mothers were more likely to be diagnosed later."

The First Year Inventory: A Longitudinal Follow-up of 12-month-old to 3-year-old Children

Source: 
Autism
Date Published: 
August 2, 2012
Abstract: 

"The First Year Inventory is a parent-report measure designed to identify 12-month-old infants at risk for autism spectrum disorder. First Year Inventory taps behaviors that indicate risk in the developmental domains of sensory-regulatory and social-communication functioning. This longitudinal study is a follow-up of 699 children at 3 years of age from a community sample whose parents completed the First Year Inventory when their children were 12 months old. Parents of all 699 children completed the Social Responsiveness Scale-Preschool version and the Developmental Concerns Questionnaire to determine age 3 developmental outcomes. In addition, children deemed at risk for autism spectrum disorder based on liberal cut points on the First Year Inventory, Social Responsiveness Scale-Preschool, and/or Developmental Concerns Questionnaire were invited for in-person diagnostic evaluations. We found 9 children who had a confirmed diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder from the sample of 699. Receiver operating characteristic analyses determined that a two-domain cutoff score yielded optimal classification of children: 31% of those meeting algorithm cutoffs had autism spectrum disorder and 85% had a developmental disability or concern by age 3. These results suggest that the First Year Inventory is a promising tool for identifying 12-month-old infants who are at risk for an eventual diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder."

Predicting the Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder Using Gene Pathway Analysis

Source: 
Molecular Psychiatry
Date Published: 
September 11, 2012
Abstract: 

"The current investigation interrogated single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of individuals with ASD from the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE) database. SNPs were mapped to Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG)-derived pathways to identify affected cellular processes and develop a diagnostic test. "

DSM-5 Field Trials in the United States and Canada, Part II: Test-Retest Reliability of Selected Categorical Diagnoses

Source: 
American Journal of Psychiatry
Date Published: 
October 30, 2012
Abstract: 

"OBJECTIVE The DSM-5 Field Trials were designed to obtain precise (standard error <0.1) estimates of the intraclass kappa as a measure of the degree to which two clinicians could independently agree on the presence or absence of selected DSM-5 diagnoses when the same patient was interviewed on separate occasions, in clinical settings, and evaluated with usual clinical interview methods."