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Silver Spring, MD, United States

Kern J.K.,Institute of Chronic Illnesses Inc
International journal of environmental research and public health | Year: 2013

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological disorder in which a significant number of the children experience a developmental regression characterized by a loss of previously acquired skills and abilities. Typically reported are losses of verbal, nonverbal, and social abilities. Several recent studies suggest that children diagnosed with an ASD have abnormal sulfation chemistry, limited thiol availability, and decreased glutathione (GSH) reserve capacity, resulting in a compromised oxidation/reduction (redox) and detoxification capacity. Research indicates that the availability of thiols, particularly GSH, can influence the effects of thimerosal (TM) and other mercury (Hg) compounds. TM is an organomercurial compound (49.55% Hg by weight) that has been, and continues to be, used as a preservative in many childhood vaccines, particularly in developing countries. Thiol-modulating mechanisms affecting the cytotoxicity of TM have been identified. Importantly, the emergence of ASD symptoms post-6 months of age temporally follows the administration of many childhood vaccines. The purpose of the present critical review is provide mechanistic insight regarding how limited thiol availability, abnormal sulfation chemistry, and decreased GSH reserve capacity in children with an ASD could make them more susceptible to the toxic effects of TM routinely administered as part of mandated childhood immunization schedules. Source


Rodriguez J.I.,Stop Calling It Autism | Kern J.K.,Stop Calling It Autism | Kern J.K.,Institute of Chronic Illnesses Inc | Kern J.K.,University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Neuron Glia Biology | Year: 2011

Evidence indicates that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) suffer from an ongoing neuroinflammatory process in different regions of the brain involving microglial activation. When microglia remain activated for an extended period, the production of mediators is sustained longer than usual and this increase in mediators contributes to loss of synaptic connections and neuronal cell death. Microglial activation can then result in a loss of connections or underconnectivity. Underconnectivity is reported in many studies in autism. One way to control neuroinflammation is to reduce or inhibit microglial activation. It is plausible that by reducing brain inflammation and microglial activation, the neurodestructive effects of chronic inflammation could be reduced and allow for improved developmental outcomes. Future studies that examine treatments that may reduce microglial activation and neuroinflammation, and ultimately help to mitigate symptoms in ASD, are warranted. © 2012 Cambridge University Press. Source


Geier D.A.,Institute of Chronic Illnesses Inc | Carmody T.,Institute of Chronic Illnesses Inc | Kern J.K.,Institute of Chronic Illnesses Inc | Kern J.K.,University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center | And 2 more authors.
Human and Experimental Toxicology | Year: 2013

Dental amalgams are a commonly used dental restorative material. Amalgams are about 50% mercury (Hg), and Hg is known to significantly accumulate in the kidney. It was hypothesized that because Hg accumulates in the proximal tubules (PTs), glutathione-S-transferases (GST)-α (suggestive of kidney damage at the level of PT) would be expected to be more related to Hg exposure than GST-π (suggestive of kidney damage at the level of the distal tubules). Urinary biomarkers of kidney integrity were examined in children of 8-18 years old, with and without dental amalgam fillings, from a completed clinical trial (parent study). Our study determined whether there was a significant dose-dependent correlation between increasing Hg exposure from dental amalgams and GST-α and GST-π as biomarkers of kidney integrity. Overall, the present study, using a different and more sensitive statistical model than the parent study, revealed a statistically significant dose-dependent correlation between cumulative exposure to Hg from dental amalgams and urinary levels of GST-α, after covariate adjustment; where as, a nonsignificant relationship was observed with urinary levels of GST-π. Furthermore, it was observed that urinary GST-α levels increased by about 10% over the 8-year course of the study among individuals with an average exposure to amalgams among the study subjects from the amalgam group, in comparison with study subjects with no exposure to dental amalgams. The results of our study suggest that dental amalgams contribute to ongoing kidney damage at the level of the PTs in a dose-dependent fashion. © The Author(s) 2013. Source


Geier D.A.,Institute of Chronic Illnesses Inc | Carmody T.,Institute of Chronic Illnesses Inc | Kern J.K.,Genetic Consultants of Dallas | Kern J.K.,University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center | And 2 more authors.
BioMetals | Year: 2011

Previous studies noted specific changes in urinary porphyrin excretion patterns associated with exposure to mercury (Hg) in animals and humans. In our study, urinary porphyrin concentrations were examined in normal children 8-18 years-old from a reanalysis of data provided from a randomized, prospective clinical trial that was designed to evaluate the potential health consequences of prolonged exposure to Hg from dental amalgam fillings (the parent study). Our analysis examined dose-dependent correlations between increasing Hg exposure from dental amalgams and urinary porphyrins utilizing statistical models with adjustments for the baseline level (i.e. study year 1) of the following variables: urinary Hg, each urinary porphyrin measure, gender, race, and the level of lead (Pb) in each subject's blood. Significant dose-dependent correlations between cumulative exposure to Hg from dental amalgams and urinary porphyrins associated with Hg body-burden (pentacarboxyporphyrin, precoproporphyrin, and coproporphyrin) were observed. Overall, 5-10% increases in Hg-associated porphyrins for subjects receiving an average number of dental amalgam fillings in comparison to subjects receiving only composite fillings were observed over the 8-year course of the study. In contrast, no significant correlations were observed between cumulative exposure to Hg from dental amalgams and urinary porphyrins not associated with Hg body-burden (uroporphyrin, heptacarboxyporphyrin, and hexacarboxyporphyrin). In conclusion, our study, in contrast to the no-effect results published from the parent study, further establishes the sensitivity and specificity of specific urinary porphyrins as a biomarker for low-level Hg body-burden, and also reveals that dental amalgams are a significant chronic contributor to Hg body-burden. © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2010. Source


Geier D.A.,Institute of Chronic Illnesses Inc | Kern J.K.,Institute of Chronic Illnesses Inc | Kern J.K.,University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center | Geier M.R.,Centers
Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disabilities | Year: 2013

The purpose of this study was to evaluate scores generated from the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC), a parent-rated measure, and those derived from professionally completed Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) evaluations. A cohort of 56 participants diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder was used for the study, and each child was evaluated independently by the parent using the ATEC and a health care professional using the CARS. The Spearman's rank correlation statistic ρ was used to evaluate the correlation between ATEC and CARS scores. It was observed that there was a significant correlation between total ATEC and CARS scores (ρ =.71). Specific domains in the ATEC evaluation significantly correlated with CARS scores. Sensitivity, specificity, and receiver operating characteristic confirmed the association between CARS and ATEC domains. The results help to validate the utility of the parentally completed ATEC in comparison with an established, professional-related measure of autism. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC. Source

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