Laboratory of Molecular Psychiatry and Psychiatric Genetics

Santa Lucia di Serino, Italy

Laboratory of Molecular Psychiatry and Psychiatric Genetics

Santa Lucia di Serino, Italy
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Napolioni V.,The Translational Genomics Research Institute TGen | Napolioni V.,Biomedical University of Rome | Napolioni V.,Laboratory of Molecular Psychiatry and Psychiatric Genetics | Ober-Reynolds B.,The Translational Genomics Research Institute TGen | And 16 more authors.
Journal of Neuroinflammation | Year: 2013

Objective: Converging lines of evidence point to the existence of immune dysfunction in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which could directly affect several key neurodevelopmental processes. Previous studies have shown higher cytokine levels in patients with autism compared with matched controls or subjects with other developmental disorders. In the current study, we used plasma-cytokine profiling for 25 discordant sibling pairs to evaluate whether these alterations occur within families with ASD. Methods: Plasma-cytokine profiling was conducted using an array-based multiplex sandwich ELISA for simultaneous quantitative measurement of 40 unique targets. We also analyzed the correlations between cytokine levels and clinically relevant quantitative traits (Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale in Autism (VABS) composite score, Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) total T score, head circumference, and full intelligence quotient (IQ)). In addition, because of the high phenotypic heterogeneity of ASD, we defined four subgroups of subjects (those who were non-verbal, those with gastrointestinal issues, those with regressive autism, and those with a history of allergies), which encompass common and/or recurrent endophenotypes in ASD, and tested the cytokine levels in each group. Results: None of the measured parameters showed significant differences between children with ASD and their related typically developing siblings. However, specific target levels did correlate with quantitative clinical traits, and these were significantly different when the ASD subgroups were analyzed. It is notable that these differences seem to be attributable to a predisposing immunogenetic background, as no other significant differences were noticed between discordant sibling pairs. Interleukin-1β appears to be the cytokine most involved in quantitative traits and clinical subgroups of ASD. Conclusions: In the present study, we found a lack of significant differences in plasma-cytokine levels between children with ASD and in their related non-autistic siblings. Thus, our results support the evidence that the immune profiles of children with autism do not differ from their typically developing siblings. However, the significant association of cytokine levels with the quantitative traits and the clinical subgroups analyzed suggests that altered immune responses may affect core feature of ASD. © 2013 Napolioni et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Napolioni V.,Biomedical University of Rome | Napolioni V.,Laboratory of Molecular Psychiatry and Psychiatric Genetics | Lombardi F.,Biomedical University of Rome | Lombardi F.,Laboratory of Molecular Psychiatry and Psychiatric Genetics | And 20 more authors.
European Journal of Human Genetics | Year: 2011

The integrin-Β 3 gene (ITGB3), located on human chromosome 17q21.3, was previously identified as a quantitative trait locus (QTL) for 5-HT blood levels and has been implicated as a candidate gene for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We performed a family-based association study in 281 simplex and 12 multiplex Caucasian families. ITGB3 haplotypes are significantly associated with autism (HBAT, global P0.038). Haplotype H3 is largely over-transmitted to the affected offspring and doubles the risk of an ASD diagnosis (HBAT P0.005; odds ratio (OR)2.000), at the expense of haplotype H1, which is under-transmitted (HBAT P0.018; OR0.725). These two common haplotypes differ only at rs12603582 located in intron 11, which reaches a P-value of 0.072 in single-marker FBAT analyses. Interestingly, rs12603582 is strongly associated with pre-term delivery in our ASD patients (P0.008). On the other hand, it is SNP rs2317385, located at the 5′ end of the gene, that significantly affects 5-HT blood levels (Mann-Whitney U-test, P0.001; multiple regression analysis, P0.010). No gene-gene interaction between ITGB3 and SLC6A4 has been detected. In conclusion, we identify a significant association between a common ITGB3 haplotype and ASD. Distinct markers, located toward the 5′ and 3′ ends of the gene, seemingly modulate 5-HT blood levels and autism liability, respectively. Our results also raise interest into ITGB3 influences on feto-maternal immune interactions in autism. © 2011 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.


Palmieri L.,University of Bari | Palmieri L.,National Research Council Italy | Papaleo V.,Biomedical University of Rome | Papaleo V.,Laboratory of Molecular Psychiatry and Psychiatric Genetics | And 25 more authors.
Molecular Psychiatry | Year: 2010

Autism is a severe developmental disorder, whose pathogenetic underpinnings are still largely unknown. Temporocortical gray matter from six matched patient-control pairs was used to perform post-mortem biochemical and genetic studies of the mitochondrial aspartate/glutamate carrier (AGC), which participates in the aspartate/malate reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide shuttle and is physiologically activated by calcium (Ca 2). AGC transport rates were significantly higher in tissue homogenates from all six patients, including those with no history of seizures and with normal electroencephalograms prior to death. This increase was consistently blunted by the Ca 2 chelator ethylene glycol tetraacetic acid; neocortical Ca 2 levels were significantly higher in all six patients; no difference in AGC transport rates was found in isolated mitochondria from patients and controls following removal of the Ca 2-containing postmitochondrial supernatant. Expression of AGC1, the predominant AGC isoform in brain, and cytochrome c oxidase activity were both increased in autistic patients, indicating an activation of mitochondrial metabolism. Furthermore, oxidized mitochondrial proteins were markedly increased in four of the six patients. Variants of the AGC1-encoding SLC25A12 gene were neither correlated with AGC activation nor associated with autism-spectrum disorders in 309 simplex and 17 multiplex families, whereas some unaffected siblings may carry a protective gene variant. Therefore, excessive Ca 2 levels are responsible for boosting AGC activity, mitochondrial metabolism and, to a more variable degree, oxidative stress in autistic brains. AGC and altered Ca 2 homeostasis play a key interactive role in the cascade of signaling events leading to autism: their modulation could provide new preventive and therapeutic strategies. © 2010 Nature Publishing Group All rights reserved.


Lintas C.,Biomedical University of Rome | Lintas C.,Laboratory of Molecular Psychiatry and Psychiatric Genetics | Altieri L.,Biomedical University of Rome | Altieri L.,Laboratory of Molecular Psychiatry and Psychiatric Genetics | And 6 more authors.
Journal of NeuroVirology | Year: 2010

Autism is a highly heritable behavioral disorder. Yet, two decades of genetic investigation have unveiled extremely few cases that can be solely explained on the basis of de novo mutations or cytogenetic abnormalities. Vertical viral transmission represents a nongenetic mechanism of disease compatible with high parent-to-offspring transmission and with low rates of disease-specific genetic abnormalities. Vertically transmitted viruses should be found more frequently in the affected tissues of autistic individuals compared to controls. Our initial step was thus to assess by nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and DNA sequence analysis the presence of cytomegalovirus (CMV), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1), herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV2), human herpes virus 6 (HHV6), BK virus (BKV), JC virus (JCV), and simian virus 40 (SV40) in genomic DNA extracted from postmortem temporocortical tissue (Brodmann areas 41/42) belonging to 15 autistic patients and 13 controls. BKV, JCV, and SV40 combined are significantly more frequent among autistic patients compared to controls (67% versus 23%, respectively; P <.05). The majority of positives yielded archetypal sequences, whereas six patients and two controls unveiled singlebase pair changes in two or more sequenced clones. No association is present with the remaining viruses, which are found in relatively few individuals (N ≤ 3). Also polyviral infections tend to occur more frequently in the brains of autistic patients compared to controls (40% versus 7.7%, respectively; P.08). Follow-up studies exploring vertical viral transmission as a possible pathogenetic mechanism in autistic disorder should focus on, but not be limited to, the role of polyomaviruses. © 2010 Informa UK Ltd.


Napolioni V.,Biomedical University of Rome | Napolioni V.,Laboratory of Molecular Psychiatry and Psychiatric Genetics | Napolioni V.,University of Camerino | Carpi F.M.,University of Camerino | And 8 more authors.
Cytokine | Year: 2011

Aging is a complex phenotype with multiple determinants but a strong genetic component significantly impacts on survival to extreme ages. The dysregulation of immune responses occurring with increasing age is believed to contribute to human morbidity and mortality. Conversely, some genetic determinants of successful aging might reside in those polymorphisms for the immune system genes regulating immune responses. Here we examined the main effects of single loci and multi-locus interactions to test the hypothesis that the adenosine deaminase (ADA) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) genes may influence human life-expectancy. ADA (22G>A, rs73598374) and TNF-α (-308G>A, rs1800629; -238G>A, rs361525) functional SNPs have been determined for 1071 unrelated healthy individuals from Central Italy (18-106. years old) divided into three gender-specific age classes defined according to demographic information and accounting for the different survivals between sexes: for men (women), the first class consists of individuals <66. years old (<73. years old), the second class of individuals 66-88. years old (73-91. years old), and the third class of individuals > 88 years old (>91. years old). Single-locus analysis showed that only ADA 22G>A is significantly associated with human life-expectancy in males (comparison 1 (age class 2 vs. age class 1), O.R. 1.943, P=0.036; comparison 2 (age class 3 vs. age class 2), O.R. 0.320, P=0.0056). Age- and gender-specific patterns of epistasis between ADA and TNF-α were found using Generalized Multifactor Dimensionality Reduction (GMDR). In comparison 1, a significant two-loci interaction occurs in females between ADA 22G>A and TNF-α -238G>A (Sign Test P=0.011). In comparison 2, both two-loci and three-loci interaction are significant associated with increased life-expectancy over 88. years in males. In conclusion, we report that a combination of functional SNPs within ADA and TNF-α genes can influence life-expectancy in a gender-specific manner and that males and females follow different pathways to attain longevity. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Muscarella L.A.,Medical Genetics Service | Muscarella L.A.,Laboratory of Oncology | Guarnieri V.,Medical Genetics Service | Sacco R.,Biomedical University of Rome | And 15 more authors.
Molecular Autism | Year: 2010

Background. HOXB1 plays a major role in brainstem morphogenesis and could partly determine the cranial circumference in conjunction with HOXA1. In our sample, HOXA1 alleles significantly influence head growth rates both in autistic patients and in population controls. An initial report, suggesting that HOXB1 could confer autism vulnerability in interaction with HOXA1, was not confirmed by five small association studies. Methods. Our sample includes 269 autistic individuals, belonging to 219 simplex and 28 multiplex families. A mutational analysis of the two exons and flanking intronic sequences of the HOXB1 gene was carried out in 84 autistic patients by denaturing high performance liquid chromatography, followed by DNA sequencing. Identified rare variants were then searched by a restriction analysis in 236 autistic patients and 325-345 controls. Case-control and family-based association studies were performed on two common variants in 169 Italian patients versus 184 Italian controls and in 247 trios. Results. We identified three common polymorphisms, rs72338773 [c.82insACAGCGCCC (INS/nINS)], rs12939811 [c.309A>T (Q103H)], and rs7207109 [c.450G>A (A150A)] and three rare variants, namely IVS1+63G>A, rs35115415 [c.702G>A (V234V)] and c.872-873delinsAA (S291N). SNPs rs72338773 and rs12939811 were not associated with autism, using either a case-control (alleles, exact P = 0.13) or a family-based design [transmission/disequilibrium test (TDT)χ2 = 1.774, P = 0.183]. The rare variants, all inherited from one of the parents, were present in two Italian and in two Caucasian-American families. Autistic probands in two families surprisingly inherited a distinct rare variant from each parent. The IVS1+63A allele was present in 3/690 control chromosomes, whereas rare alleles at rs35115415 and c.872-873delinsAA (S291N) were not found in 662 and 650 control chromosomes, respectively. The INS-T309 allele influenced head size, but its effect appears more modest and shows no interaction with HOXA1 alleles. The INS-T309 allele is also associated with more severe stereotypic behaviours, according to ADI-R scores (N = 60 patients, P < 0.01). Conclusions. HOXB1 mutations do not represent a common cause of autism, nor do HOXB1 common variants play important roles in autism vulnerability. HOXB1 provides minor, albeit detectable contributions to head circumference in autistic patients, with HOXA1 displaying more prominent effects. HOXB1 variants may modulate the clinical phenotype, especially in the area of stereotypic behaviours. © 2010 Muscarella et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Lintas C.,Biomedical University of Rome | Lintas C.,Laboratory of Molecular Psychiatry and Psychiatric Genetics | Guidi F.,Catholic University of the Sacred Heart | Manzi B.,University of Rome Tor Vergata | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2011

Background: Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by impaired language, communication and social skills, as well as by repetitive and stereotypic patterns of behavior. Many autistic subjects display a dysregulation of the immune system which is compatible with an unresolved viral infection with prenatal onset, potentially due to vertical viral transmission. Recently, the xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) has been implicated in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and in prostate cancer by several, though not all studies. Methodology/Principal Findings: We assessed whether XMRV or other murine leukemia virus (MLV)-related viruses are involved in autistic disorder. Using nested PCR targeted to gag genomic sequences, we screened DNA samples from: (i) peripheral blood of 102 ASD patients and 97 controls, (ii) post-mortem brain samples of 20 ASD patients and 17 sex- and age-matched controls, (iii) semen samples of 11 fathers of ASD children, 25 infertile individuals and 7 fertile controls. No XMRV gag DNA sequences were detected, whereas peripheral blood samples of 3/97 (3.1%) controls were positive for MLV. Conclusions/Significance: No MLV-related virus was detected in blood, brain, and semen samples of ASD patients or fathers. Hence infection with XMRV or other MLV-related viruses is unlikely to contribute to autism pathogenesis. © 2011 Lintas et al.

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