International Child Development Resource Center

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International Child Development Resource Center

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Bradstreet J.J.,International Child Development Resource Center | Smith S.,International Child Development Resource Center | Rossignol D.A.,International Child Development Resource Center
Alternative Medicine Review | Year: 2010

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are common and complex neurodevelopmental conditions. Diagnostic criteria for these conditions have traditionally relied solely on behavioral criteria without consideration for potential biomedical underpinnings. Newer evidence, however, reveals that ASDs are associated with: oxidative stress; decreased methylation capacity; limited production of glutathione; mitochondrial dysfunction; intestinal dysbiosis; increased toxic metal burden; immune dysregulation, characterized by a unique inflammatory bowel disease and immune activation of neuroglial cells; and ongoing brain hypoperfusion. Many of these same problems are common features in children with ADHD. These medical conditions, whether co-morbidities or etiopathogenic, would be expected to have synergistically negative effects on the development, cognition, focus, and attention of affected children. It is likely these biological abnormalities contribute significantly to the behavioral symptoms intrinsic in these diagnoses. However, treatment for these underlying medical disorders is clinically justified, even if no clear immediate behavioral improvements are observed. This article reviews the medical literature and discusses the authors'clinical experience using various biomarkers for measuring oxidative stress, methylation capacity and transsulfuration, immune function, gastrointestinal problems, and toxic metal burden. These biomarkers provide useful guides for selection, efficacy, and sufficiency of biomedical interventions. The use of these biomarkers is of great importance in young children with ADHD or individuals of any age with ASD, because typically they cannot adequately communicate regarding their symptoms.


Siniscalco D.,The Second University of Naples | Siniscalco D.,Center for Autism La Forza del Silenzio | Cirillo A.,National Research Council Italy | Bradstreet J.J.,International Child Development Resource Center | Antonucci N.,Biomedical Center for Autism Research and Treatment
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health | Year: 2013

Autism and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are complex neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by dysfunctions in social interactions, communications, restricted interests, and repetitive stereotypic behaviors. Despite extensive genetic and biological research, significant controversy surrounds our understanding of the specific mechanisms of their pathogenesis. However, accumulating evidence points to the involvement of epigenetic modifications as foundational in creating ASD pathophysiology. Epigenetic modifications or the alteration of DNA transcription via variations in DNA methylation and histone modifications but without alterations in the DNA sequence, affect gene regulation. These alterations in gene expression, obtained through DNA methylation and/or histone modifications, result from transcriptional regulatory influences of environmental factors, such as nutritional deficiencies, various toxicants, immunological effects, and pharmaceuticals. As such these effects are epigenetic regulators which determine the final biochemistry and physiology of the individual. In contrast to psychopharmacological interventions, bettering our understanding of how these gene-environmental interactions create autistic symptoms should facilitate the development of therapeutic targeting of gene expression for ASD biomedical care. © 2013 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


Siniscalco D.,The Second University of Naples | Siniscalco D.,Center for Autism La Forza del Silenzio | Bradstreet J.J.,International Child Development Resource Center | Antonucci N.,Biomedical Center for Autism Research and Treatment
Frontiers in Immunology | Year: 2013

Autism and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are heterogeneous, severe neuro-developmental disorders with core symptoms of dysfunctions in social interactions and communication skills, restricted interests, repetitive - stereotypic verbal and non-verbal behaviors. Biomolecular evidence points to complex gene-environmental interactions in ASDs. Several biochemical processes are associated with ASDs: oxidative stress (including endoplasmic reticulum stress), decreased methylation capacity, limited production of glutathione; mitochondrial dysfunction, intestinal dysbiosis, increased toxic metal burden, and various immune abnormalities. The known immunological disorders include: T-lymphocyte populations and function, gene expression changes in monocytes, several autoimmune-related findings, high levels of N-acetylgalactosaminidase (which precludes macrophage activation), and primary immune deficiencies. These immunological observations may result in minicolumn structural changes in the brain, as well as, abnormal immune mediation of synaptic functions. Equally, these immune dysregulations serve as the rationale for immune-directed interventions such as hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), which are pivotal in controlling chronic inflammation and in the restoration of immunological balance. These properties make them intriguing potential agents for ASD treatments. This prospective review will focus on the current state-of-the-art knowledge and challenges intrinsic in the application of HSCs for ASD-related immunological disorders. © 2013 Siniscalco, Bradstreet and Antonucci.


Siniscalco D.,The Second University of Naples | Siniscalco D.,Center for Autism | Bradstreet J.J.,International Child Development Resource Center | Sych N.,Cell Therapy Center ll | Antonucci N.,Biomedical Center for Autism Research and Treatment
Stem Cells International | Year: 2013

Autism and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are complex neurodevelopmental disorders. ASDs are clinically defined by deficits in communication, social skills, and repetitive and/or restrictive interests and behaviours. With the prevalence rates for ASDs rapidly increasing, the need for effective therapies for autism is a priority for biomedical research. Currently available medications do not target the core symptoms, can have markedly adverse side-effects, and are mainly palliative for negative behaviours. The development of molecular and regenerative interventions is progressing rapidly, and medicine holds great expectations for stem cell therapies. Cells could be designed to target the observed molecular mechanisms of ASDs, that is, abnormal neurotransmitter regulation, activated microglia, mitochondrial dysfunction, blood-brain barrier disruptions, and chronic intestinal inflammation. Presently, the paracrine, secretome, and immunomodulatory effects of stem cells would appear to be the likely mechanisms of application for ASD therapeutics. This review will focus on the potential use of the various types of stem cells: embryonic, induced pluripotential, fetal, and adult stem cells as targets for ASD therapeutics. © 2013 Dario Siniscalco et al.


Frye R.E.,University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences | Sequeira J.M.,New York University | Quadros E.V.,New York University | James S.J.,University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences | Rossignol D.A.,International Child Development Resource Center
Molecular Psychiatry | Year: 2013

Cerebral folate deficiency (CFD) syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder typically caused by folate receptor autoantibodies (FRAs) that interfere with folate transport across the blood-brain barrier. Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and improvements in ASD symptoms with leucovorin (folinic acid) treatment have been reported in some children with CFD. In children with ASD, the prevalence of FRAs and the response to leucovorin in FRA-positive children has not been systematically investigated. In this study, serum FRA concentrations were measured in 93 children with ASD and a high prevalence (75.3%) of FRAs was found. In 16 children, the concentration of blocking FRA significantly correlated with cerebrospinal fluid 5-methyltetrahydrofolate concentrations, which were below the normative mean in every case. Children with FRAs were treated with oral leucovorin calcium (2 mg kg-1 per day; maximum 50 mg per day). Treatment response was measured and compared with a wait-list control group. Compared with controls, significantly higher improvement ratings were observed in treated children over a mean period of 4 months in verbal communication, receptive and expressive language, attention and stereotypical behavior. Approximately one-third of treated children demonstrated moderate to much improvement. The incidence of adverse effects was low. This study suggests that FRAs may be important in ASD and that FRA-positive children with ASD may benefit from leucovorin calcium treatment. Given these results, empirical treatment with leucovorin calcium may be a reasonable and non-invasive approach in FRA-positive children with ASD. Additional studies of folate receptor autoimmunity and leucovorin calcium treatment in children with ASD are warranted. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited.


Granpeesheh D.,Center for Autism and Related Disorders | Tarbox J.,Center for Autism and Related Disorders | Dixon D.R.,Center for Autism and Related Disorders | Wilke A.E.,Center for Autism and Related Disorders | And 2 more authors.
Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders | Year: 2010

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are characterized by the presence of impaired development in social interaction and communication and the presence of a restricted repertoire of activity and interests. While numerous treatments for ASDs have been proposed, very few have been subjected to rigorous scientific investigation. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has been recently popularized as a treatment for the symptoms of ASDs. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that HBOT would have a beneficial effect on ASD symptoms in the context of a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. This randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial compared HBOT used to deliver 24% oxygen at 1.3 atmospheric pressure (n = 18) to placebo (n = 16) in children with Autistic Disorder. Both direct observational measures of behaviors symptomatic of autism and standardized psychological assessments were used to evaluate the effects of the treatment. No differences were detected between HBOT and placebo groups across any of the outcome measures. The present study demonstrates that HBOT delivered at 24% oxygen at 1.3 atmospheric pressure does not result in a clinically significant improvement of the symptoms of Autistic Disorder. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Rossignol D.A.,International Child Development Resource Center | Frye R.E.,University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Molecular Psychiatry | Year: 2012

Recent studies have implicated physiological and metabolic abnormalities in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other psychiatric disorders, particularly immune dysregulation or inflammation, oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction and environmental toxicant exposures ('four major areas'). The aim of this study was to determine trends in the literature on these topics with respect to ASD. A comprehensive literature search from 1971 to 2010 was performed in these four major areas in ASD with three objectives. First, publications were divided by several criteria, including whether or not they implicated an association between the physiological abnormality and ASD. A large percentage of publications implicated an association between ASD and immune dysregulation/inflammation (416 out of 437 publications, 95%), oxidative stress (all 115), mitochondrial dysfunction (145 of 153, 95%) and toxicant exposures (170 of 190, 89%). Second, the strength of evidence for publications in each area was computed using a validated scale. The strongest evidence was for immune dysregulation/inflammation and oxidative stress, followed by toxicant exposures and mitochondrial dysfunction. In all areas, at least 45% of the publications were rated as providing strong evidence for an association between the physiological abnormalities and ASD. Third, the time trends in the four major areas were compared with trends in neuroimaging, neuropathology, theory of mind and genetics ('four comparison areas'). The number of publications per 5-year block in all eight areas was calculated in order to identify significant changes in trends. Prior to 1986, only 12 publications were identified in the four major areas and 51 in the four comparison areas (42 for genetics). For each 5-year period, the total number of publications in the eight combined areas increased progressively. Most publications (552 of 895, 62%) in the four major areas were published in the last 5 years (2006-2010). Evaluation of trends between the four major areas and the four comparison areas demonstrated that the largest relative growth was in immune dysregulation/inflammation, oxidative stress, toxicant exposures, genetics and neuroimaging. Research on mitochondrial dysfunction started growing in the last 5 years. Theory of mind and neuropathology research has declined in recent years. Although most publications implicated an association between the four major areas and ASD, publication bias may have led to an overestimation of this association. Further research into these physiological areas may provide insight into general or subset-specific processes that could contribute to the development of ASD and other psychiatric disorders. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.


Rossignol D.A.,International Child Development Resource Center | Frye R.E.,University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Molecular Psychiatry | Year: 2012

A comprehensive literature search was performed to collate evidence of mitochondrial dysfunction in autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) with two primary objectives. First, features of mitochondrial dysfunction in the general population of children with ASD were identified. Second, characteristics of mitochondrial dysfunction in children with ASD and concomitant mitochondrial disease (MD) were compared with published literature of two general populations: ASD children without MD, and non-ASD children with MD. The prevalence of MD in the general population of ASD was 5.0% (95% confidence interval 3.2, 6.9%), much higher than found in the general population (∼0.01%). The prevalence of abnormal biomarker values of mitochondrial dysfunction was high in ASD, much higher than the prevalence of MD. Variances and mean values of many mitochondrial biomarkers (lactate, pyruvate, carnitine and ubiquinone) were significantly different between ASD and controls. Some markers correlated with ASD severity. Neuroimaging, in vitro and post-mortem brain studies were consistent with an elevated prevalence of mitochondrial dysfunction in ASD. Taken together, these findings suggest children with ASD have a spectrum of mitochondrial dysfunction of differing severity. Eighteen publications representing a total of 112 children with ASD and MD (ASD/MD) were identified. The prevalence of developmental regression (52%), seizures (41%), motor delay (51%), gastrointestinal abnormalities (74%), female gender (39%), and elevated lactate (78%) and pyruvate (45%) was significantly higher in ASD/MD compared with the general ASD population. The prevalence of many of these abnormalities was similar to the general population of children with MD, suggesting that ASD/MD represents a distinct subgroup of children with MD. Most ASD/MD cases (79%) were not associated with genetic abnormalities, raising the possibility of secondary mitochondrial dysfunction. Treatment studies for ASD/MD were limited, although improvements were noted in some studies with carnitine, co-enzyme Q10 and B-vitamins. Many studies suffered from limitations, including small sample sizes, referral or publication biases, and variability in protocols for selecting children for MD workup, collecting mitochondrial biomarkers and defining MD. Overall, this evidence supports the notion that mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with ASD. Additional studies are needed to further define the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in ASD. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.


Rossignol D.A.,International Child Development Resource Center | Frye R.E.,University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology | Year: 2011

Aim The aim of this study was to investigate melatonin-related findings in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), including autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, Rett syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorders, not otherwise specified. Method Comprehensive searches were conducted in the PubMed, Google Scholar, CINAHL, EMBASE, Scopus, and ERIC databases from their inception to October 2010. Two reviewers independently assessed 35 studies that met the inclusion criteria. Of these, meta-analysis was performed on five randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, and the quality of these trials was assessed using the Downs and Black checklist. Results Nine studies measured melatonin or melatonin metabolites in ASD and all reported at least one abnormality, including an abnormal melatonin circadian rhythm in four studies, below average physiological levels of melatonin and/or melatonin derivates in seven studies, and a positive correlation between these levels and autistic behaviors in four studies. Five studies reported gene abnormalities that could contribute to decreased melatonin production or adversely affect melatonin receptor function in a small percentage of children with ASD. Six studies reported improved daytime behavior with melatonin use. Eighteen studies on melatonin treatment in ASD were identified; these studies reported improvements in sleep duration, sleep onset latency, and night-time awakenings. Five of these studies were randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover studies; two of the studies contained blended samples of children with ASD and other developmental disorders, but only data for children with ASD were used in the meta-analysis. The meta-analysis found significant improvements with large effect sizes in sleep duration (73min compared with baseline, Hedge's g 1.97 [95% confidence interval {CI} CI 1.10-2.84], Glass's Δ 1.54 [95% CI 0.64-2.44]; 44min compared with placebo, Hedge's g 1.07 [95% CI 0.49-1.65], Glass's Δ 0.93 [95% CI 0.33-1.53]) and sleep onset latency (66min compared with baseline, Hedge's g-2.42 [95% CI -1.67 to -3.17], Glass's Δ-2.18 [95% CI -1.58 to -2.76]; 39min compared with placebo, Hedge's g-2.46 [95% CI -1.96 to -2.98], Glass's Δ-1.28 [95% CI -0.67 to -1.89]) but not in night-time awakenings. The effect size varied significantly across studies but funnel plots did not indicate publication bias. The reported side effects of melatonin were minimal to none. Some studies were affected by limitations, including small sample sizes and variability in the protocols that measured changes in sleep parameters. Interpretation Melatonin administration in ASD is associated with improved sleep parameters, better daytime behavior, and minimal side effects. Additional studies of melatonin would be helpful to confirm and expand on these findings. © The Authors. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology © 2011 Mac Keith Press.


Frye R.E.,University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston | Rossignol D.A.,International Child Development Resource Center
Pediatric Research | Year: 2011

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a devastating neurodevelopmental disorder. Over the past decade, evidence has emerged that some children with ASD suffer from undiagnosed comorbid medical conditions. One of the medical disorders that has been consistently associated with ASD is mitochondrial dysfunction. Individuals with mitochondrial disorders without concomitant ASD manifest dysfunction in multiple high-energy organ systems, such as the central nervous, muscular, and gastrointestinal (GI) systems. Interestingly, these are the identical organ systems affected in a significant number of children with ASD. This finding increases the possibility that mitochondrial dysfunction may be one of the keys that explains the many diverse symptoms observed in some children with ASD. This article will review the importance of mitochondria in human health and disease, the evidence for mitochondrial dysfunction in ASD, the potential role of mitochondrial dysfunction in the comorbid medical conditions associated with ASD, and how mitochondrial dysfunction can bridge the gap for understanding how these seemingly disparate medical conditions are related. We also review the limitations of this evidence and other possible explanations for these findings. This new understanding of ASD should provide researchers a pathway for understanding the etiopathogenesis of ASD and clinicians the potential to develop medical therapies. Copyright © 2011 International Pediatric Research Foundation, Inc.

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