Article

The CHARGE Study: An Epidemiologic Investigation of Genetic and Environmental Factors Contributing to Autism

Division of Epidemiology, Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Medicine, and Medical Investigations of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (MIND) Institute, University of California-Davis, Davis, California, USA.
Environmental Health Perspectives (Impact Factor: 7.03). 08/2006; 114(7):1119-25. DOI: 10.1289/ehp.8483
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Causes and contributing factors for autism are poorly understood. Evidence suggests that prevalence is rising, but the extent to which diagnostic changes and improvements in ascertainment contribute to this increase is unclear. Both genetic and environmental factors are likely to contribute etiologically. Evidence from twin, family, and genetic studies supports a role for an inherited predisposition to the development of autism. Nonetheless, clinical, neuroanatomic, neurophysiologic, and epidemiologic studies suggest that gene penetrance and expression may be influenced, in some cases strongly, by the prenatal and early postnatal environmental milieu. Sporadic studies link autism to xenobiotic chemicals and/or viruses, but few methodologically rigorous investigations have been undertaken. In light of major gaps in understanding of autism, a large case-control investigation of underlying environmental and genetic causes for autism and triggers of regression has been launched. The CHARGE (Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and Environment) study will address a wide spectrum of chemical and biologic exposures, susceptibility factors, and their interactions. Phenotypic variation among children with autism will be explored, as will similarities and differences with developmental delay. The CHARGE study infrastructure includes detailed developmental assessments, medical information, questionnaire data, and biologic specimens. The CHARGE study is linked to University of California-Davis Center for Children's Environmental Health laboratories in immunology, xenobiotic measurement, cell signaling, genomics, and proteomics. The goals, study design, and data collection protocols are described, as well as preliminary demographic data on study participants and on diagnoses of those recruited through the California Department of Developmental Services Regional Center System.

Full-text

Available from: Isaac Pessah, Jun 11, 2015
0 Followers
 · 
130 Views
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The objective of this study was to identify gene expression differences in blood differences in children with autism (AU) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) compared to general population controls. Transcriptional profiles were compared with age- and gender-matched, typically developing children from the general population (GP). The AU group was subdivided based on a history of developmental regression (A-R) or a history of early onset (A-E without regression). Total RNA from blood was processed on human Affymetrix microarrays. Thirty-five children with AU (17 with early onset autism and 18 with autism with regression) and 14 ASD children (who did not meet criteria for AU) were compared to 12 GP children. Unpaired t tests (corrected for multiple comparisons with a false discovery rate of 0.05) detected a number of genes that were regulated more than 1.5-fold for AU versus GP (n=55 genes), for A-E versus GP (n=140 genes), for A-R versus GP (n=20 genes), and for A-R versus A-E (n=494 genes). No genes were significantly regulated for ASD versus GP. There were 11 genes shared between the comparisons of all autism subgroups to GP (AU, A-E, and A-R versus GP) and these genes were all expressed in natural killer cells and many belonged to the KEGG natural killer cytotoxicity pathway (p=0.02). A subset of these genes (n=7) was tested with qRT-PCR and all genes were found to be differentially expressed (p<0.05). We conclude that the gene expression data support emerging evidence for abnormalities in peripheral blood leukocytes in autism that could represent a genetic and/or environmental predisposition to the disorder.
    Genomics 01/2008; 91(1):22-9. DOI:10.1016/j.ygeno.2007.09.003 · 2.79 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: There is evidence of both immune dysregulation and autoimmune phenomena in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). We examined the hormone/cytokine leptin in 70 children diagnosed with autism (including 37 with regression) compared with 99 age-matched controls including 50 typically developing (TD) controls, 26 siblings without autism, and 23 children with developmental disabilities (DD). Children with autism had significantly higher plasma leptin levels compared with TD controls (p<.006). When further sub-classified into regression or early onset autism, children with early onset autism had significantly higher plasma leptin levels compared with children with regressive autism (p<.042), TD controls (p<.0015), and DD controls (p<.004). We demonstrated an increase in leptin levels in autism, a finding driven by the early onset group.
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 01/2008; 38(1):169-75. DOI:10.1007/s10803-006-0353-1 · 3.34 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Ambient levels of pesticides ("pesticide drift") are detectable at residences near agricultural field sites. Our goal was to evaluate the hypothesis that maternal residence near agricultural pesticide applications during key periods of gestation could be associated with the development of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in children. We identified 465 children with ASD born during 1996-1998 using the California Department of Developmental Services electronic files, and matched them by maternal date of last menstrual period to 6,975 live-born, normal-birth-weight, term infants as controls. We determined proximity to pesticide applications using California Department of Pesticide Regulation records refined using Department of Water Resources land use polygons. A staged analytic design applying a priori criteria to the results of conditional logistic regressions was employed to exclude associations likely due to multiple testing error. Of 249 unique hypotheses, four that described organochlorine pesticide applications--specifically those of dicofol and endosulfan--occurring during the period immediately before and concurrent with central nervous system embryogenesis (clinical weeks 1 through 8) met a priori criteria and were unlikely to be a result of multiple testing. Multivariate a posteriori models comparing children of mothers living within 500 m of field sites with the highest nonzero quartile of organochlorine poundage to those with mothers not living near field sites suggested an odds ratio for ASD of 6.1 (95% confidence interval, 2.4-15.3). ASD risk increased with the poundage of organochlorine applied and decreased with distance from field sites. The association between residential proximity to organochlorine pesticide applications during gestation and ASD among children should be further studied.
    Environmental Health Perspectives 11/2007; 115(10):1482-9. DOI:10.1289/ehp.10168 · 7.03 Impact Factor