Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Autism and Environmental Genomics

This forthcoming article in the journal Neurotoxicology seems to back up some of the claims in Richard Lathe's new book (see earlier post).

" Genetic studies to date have not uncovered genes of strong effect, but a move toward "genetic complexity" at the neurobiological level may not suffice, as evidence of systemic abnormalities (e.g. gastrointestinal and immune), increasing rates and less than 100% monozygotic concordance support a more inclusive reframing of autism as a multisystem disorder with genetic influence and environmental contributors. We review this evidence and also use a bioinformatic approach to explore the possibility that "environmentally responsive genes" not specifically associated with the nervous system, but potentially associated with systemic changes in autism, have not hitherto received sufficient attention in autism genetics investigations... Both our review and the bioinformatics exercise support the expansion of criteria for evaluating the relevance of genes to autism risk to include genes related to systemic impact and environmental responsiveness. This review also suggests the utility of environmental genomic resources in highlighting the potential relevance of particular genes within linkage regions. Environmental responsiveness and systems impacts consistent with system-wide findings in autism are thus supported as important considerations in identifying the numerous and complex modes of gene-environment interaction in autism."

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