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      Treatments for Biomedical Abnormalities Associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder

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          Abstract

          Recent studies point to the effectiveness of novel treatments that address physiological abnormalities associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This is significant because safe and effective treatments for ASD remain limited. These physiological abnormalities as well as studies addressing treatments of these abnormalities are reviewed in this article. Treatments commonly used to treat mitochondrial disease have been found to improve both core and associated ASD symptoms. Double-blind, placebo-controlled (DBPC) studies have investigated l-carnitine and a multivitamin containing B vitamins, antioxidants, vitamin E, and co-enzyme Q10 while non-blinded studies have investigated ubiquinol. Controlled and uncontrolled studies using folinic acid, a reduced form of folate, have reported marked improvements in core and associated ASD symptoms in some children with ASD and folate related pathway abnormities. Treatments that could address redox metabolism abnormalities include methylcobalamin with and without folinic acid in open-label studies and vitamin C and N-acetyl- l-cysteine in DBPC studies. These studies have reported improved core and associated ASD symptoms with these treatments. Lastly, both open-label and DBPC studies have reported improvements in core and associated ASD symptoms with tetrahydrobiopterin. Overall, these treatments were generally well-tolerated without significant adverse effects for most children, although we review the reported adverse effects in detail. This review provides evidence for potentially safe and effective treatments for core and associated symptoms of ASD that target underlying known physiological abnormalities associated with ASD. Further research is needed to define subgroups of children with ASD in which these treatments may be most effective as well as confirm their efficacy in DBPC, large-scale multicenter studies.

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          Most cited references 108

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          De novo mutations revealed by whole-exome sequencing are strongly associated with autism.

          Multiple studies have confirmed the contribution of rare de novo copy number variations to the risk for autism spectrum disorders. But whereas de novo single nucleotide variants have been identified in affected individuals, their contribution to risk has yet to be clarified. Specifically, the frequency and distribution of these mutations have not been well characterized in matched unaffected controls, and such data are vital to the interpretation of de novo coding mutations observed in probands. Here we show, using whole-exome sequencing of 928 individuals, including 200 phenotypically discordant sibling pairs, that highly disruptive (nonsense and splice-site) de novo mutations in brain-expressed genes are associated with autism spectrum disorders and carry large effects. On the basis of mutation rates in unaffected individuals, we demonstrate that multiple independent de novo single nucleotide variants in the same gene among unrelated probands reliably identifies risk alleles, providing a clear path forward for gene discovery. Among a total of 279 identified de novo coding mutations, there is a single instance in probands, and none in siblings, in which two independent nonsense variants disrupt the same gene, SCN2A (sodium channel, voltage-gated, type II, α subunit), a result that is highly unlikely by chance.
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            Patterns and rates of exonic de novo mutations in autism spectrum disorders

            Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are believed to have genetic and environmental origins, yet in only a modest fraction of individuals can specific causes be identified 1,2 . To identify further genetic risk factors, we assess the role of de novo mutations in ASD by sequencing the exomes of ASD cases and their parents (n= 175 trios). Fewer than half of the cases (46.3%) carry a missense or nonsense de novo variant and the overall rate of mutation is only modestly higher than the expected rate. In contrast, there is significantly enriched connectivity among the proteins encoded by genes harboring de novo missense or nonsense mutations, and excess connectivity to prior ASD genes of major effect, suggesting a subset of observed events are relevant to ASD risk. The small increase in rate of de novo events, when taken together with the connections among the proteins themselves and to ASD, are consistent with an important but limited role for de novo point mutations, similar to that documented for de novo copy number variants. Genetic models incorporating these data suggest that the majority of observed de novo events are unconnected to ASD, those that do confer risk are distributed across many genes and are incompletely penetrant (i.e., not necessarily causal). Our results support polygenic models in which spontaneous coding mutations in any of a large number of genes increases risk by 5 to 20-fold. Despite the challenge posed by such models, results from de novo events and a large parallel case-control study provide strong evidence in favor of CHD8 and KATNAL2 as genuine autism risk factors.
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              Genetic heritability and shared environmental factors among twin pairs with autism.

              Autism is considered the most heritable of neurodevelopmental disorders, mainly because of the large difference in concordance rates between monozygotic and dizygotic twins. To provide rigorous quantitative estimates of genetic heritability of autism and the effects of shared environment. Twin pairs with at least 1 twin with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) born between 1987 and 2004 were identified through the California Department of Developmental Services. Structured diagnostic assessments (Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised and Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) were completed on 192 twin pairs. Concordance rates were calculated and parametric models were fitted for 2 definitions, 1 narrow (strict autism) and 1 broad (ASD). For strict autism, probandwise concordance for male twins was 0.58 for 40 monozygotic pairs (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.42-0.74) and 0.21 for 31 dizygotic pairs (95% CI, 0.09-0.43); for female twins, the concordance was 0.60 for 7 monozygotic pairs (95% CI, 0.28-0.90) and 0.27 for 10 dizygotic pairs (95% CI, 0.09-0.69). For ASD, the probandwise concordance for male twins was 0.77 for 45 monozygotic pairs (95% CI, 0.65-0.86) and 0.31 for 45 dizygotic pairs (95% CI, 0.16-0.46); for female twins, the concordance was 0.50 for 9 monozygotic pairs (95% CI, 0.16-0.84) and 0.36 for 13 dizygotic pairs (95% CI, 0.11-0.60). A large proportion of the variance in liability can be explained by shared environmental factors (55%; 95% CI, 9%-81% for autism and 58%; 95% CI, 30%-80% for ASD) in addition to moderate genetic heritability (37%; 95% CI, 8%-84% for autism and 38%; 95% CI, 14%-67% for ASD). Susceptibility to ASD has moderate genetic heritability and a substantial shared twin environmental component.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                URI : http://frontiersin.org/people/u/12818
                URI : http://frontiersin.org/people/u/78988
                Journal
                Front Pediatr
                Front Pediatr
                Front. Pediatr.
                Frontiers in Pediatrics
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                2296-2360
                27 June 2014
                2014
                : 2
                Affiliations
                1Department of Pediatrics, Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences , Little Rock, AR, USA
                2Rossignol Medical Center , Irvine, CA, USA
                Author notes

                Edited by: Roberto Canitano, University Hospital of Siena, Italy

                Reviewed by: Andrew Walter Zimmerman, Harvard Medical School, USA; Robert Hendren, University of California San Francisco, USA

                *Correspondence: Richard Eugene Frye, Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Slot 512-41B, 13 Children’s Way, Little Rock, AR 72202, USA e-mail: refrye@ 123456uams.edu

                This article was submitted to Child and Neurodevelopmental Psychiatry, a section of the journal Frontiers in Pediatrics.

                Article
                10.3389/fped.2014.00066
                4073259
                Copyright © 2014 Frye and Rossignol.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 115, Pages: 8, Words: 8430
                Categories
                Pediatrics
                Review Article

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