Lack of Association between Measles Virus Vaccine and Autism with Enteropathy: A Case-Control Study

Center for Infection and Immunity, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York, United States of America.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 02/2008; 3(9):e3140. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003140
Source: PubMed


The presence of measles virus (MV) RNA in bowel tissue from children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances was reported in 1998. Subsequent investigations found no associations between MV exposure and ASD but did not test for the presence of MV RNA in bowel or focus on children with ASD and GI disturbances. Failure to replicate the original study design may contribute to continued public concern with respect to the safety of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
The objective of this case-control study was to determine whether children with GI disturbances and autism are more likely than children with GI disturbances alone to have MV RNA and/or inflammation in bowel tissues and if autism and/or GI episode onset relate temporally to receipt of MMR. The sample was an age-matched group of US children undergoing clinically-indicated ileocolonoscopy. Ileal and cecal tissues from 25 children with autism and GI disturbances and 13 children with GI disturbances alone (controls) were evaluated by real-time reverse transcription (RT)-PCR for presence of MV RNA in three laboratories blinded to diagnosis, including one wherein the original findings suggesting a link between MV and ASD were reported. The temporal order of onset of GI episodes and autism relative to timing of MMR administration was examined. We found no differences between case and control groups in the presence of MV RNA in ileum and cecum. Results were consistent across the three laboratory sites. GI symptom and autism onset were unrelated to MMR timing. Eighty-eight percent of ASD cases had behavioral regression.
This study provides strong evidence against association of autism with persistent MV RNA in the GI tract or MMR exposure. Autism with GI disturbances is associated with elevated rates of regression in language or other skills and may represent an endophenotype distinct from other ASD.

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Available from: Orla Sheils, Oct 01, 2015
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    • "Patient biopsies were collected as part of a study to assess the frequency of measles virus transcripts in ilea of children with autistic disorder and gastrointestinal symptoms (AUT-GI) and children with gastrointestinal symptoms without any apparent neurologic disorder (CON-GI) [36]. The Institutional Review Boards (IRB) of Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and Partners specifically reviewed and approved the design of the previous study under which these samples were obtained after written consent of parents and guardians, in addition to child assent, as appropriate. "
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    • "Caring for all people with autism costs an estimated $35 billion per year according to a Harvard School of Public Health Press Release [5]. A recent consensus report from a multidisciplinary panel concluded that evidence-based recommendations for evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of gastrointestinal disorders in subjects with autism are not yet available and that these individuals deserve the same thoroughness and standard of care for diagnostic workup and treatment as patients without autism spectrum disorders [6]. The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) points out the need for additional studies on the role of the environment, of epidemiology, and of specific treatments for autism [7]. "
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    • "Thus, this finding suggested a limited influence of the mainstream media on the MMR immunization/autism controversy. One other study [52] was concerned about the presence of measles virus (MV) RNA in bowel tissue of children with autism, but the authors found no difference between cases with autism and controls, as evidence against autism being related to persistent MV RNA. "
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