The aim of the study was to analyze cytokine profiles in amniotic fluid (AF) samples of children developing autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and controls, adjusting for maternal autoimmune disorders and maternal infections during pregnancy.
AF samples of 331 ASD cases and 698 controls were analyzed for inflammatory cytokines using Luminex xMAP technology utilizing a historic birth cohort. Clinical data were retrieved from nationwide registers, and case-control differences in AF cytokine levels were assessed using chi-square tests, logistic and tobit regression models.
Overall, individuals with ASD had significantly elevated AF levels of TNF-a and TNF-ß compared to controls. Analyzing individuals diagnosed only with ICD-10 codes yielded significantly elevated levels of IL-4, IL-10, TNF-a and TNF-ß in ASD patients. Restricting analysis to infantile autism cases showed significantly elevated levels of IL-4, TNF-a and TNF-ß compared to controls with no psychiatric comorbidities. Elevated levels of IL-6 and IL-5 were found in individuals with other childhood psychiatric disorders (OCPD) when compared to controls with no psychiatric comorbidities.
AF samples of individuals with ASD or OCPD showed differential cytokine profiles compared to frequency-matched controls. Further studies to examine the specificity of the reported cytokine profiles in ASD and OCPD are required.
Evidence suggests that some developmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), are caused by errors in brain plasticity. Given the important role of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and neurotrophins (NTs) in neuroplasticity, amniotic fluid samples for 331 ASD cases and 698 frequency-matched controls were analyzed for levels of MMP-9, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, NT-4 and transforming growth factor-ß utilizing a Danish historic birth cohort and Danish nationwide health registers. Laboratory measurements were performed using an in-house multiplex sandwich immunoassay Luminex xMAP method, and measurements were analyzed using tobit and logistic regression. Results showed elevated levels of MMP-9 in ASD cases compared with controls (crude and adjusted tobit regression P-values: 0.01 and 0.06). Our results highlight the importance of exploring the biologic impact of MMP-9 and potential therapeutic roles of its inhibitors in ASD and may indicate that neuroplastic impairments in ASD may present during pregnancy.
Prenatal exposure to phthalates may pose a threat to human male reproduction. However, additional knowledge about the in vivo effect in humans is needed, and reported associations with genital abnormalities are inconclusive. We aimed to study prenatal di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and diisononyl phthalate (DiNP) exposure in relation to cryptorchidism, hypospadias, and human fetal Leydig cell function.
We studied 270 cryptorchidism cases, 75 hypospadias cases, and 300 controls. Second-trimester amniotic fluid samples were available from a Danish pregnancy-screening biobank (n = 25,105) covering 1980-1996. We assayed metabolites of DEHP and DiNP (n = 645) and steroid hormones (n = 545) by mass spectrometry. We assayed insulin-like factor 3 by immunoassay (n = 475) and analyzed data using linear or logistic regression.
Mono(2-ethyl-5-carboxypentyl) phthalate (5cx-MEPP, DEHP metabolite) was not consistently associated with cryptorchidism or hypospadias. However, we observed an 18% higher (95% confidence interval [CI] = 5%-33%) testosterone level, and a 41% lower (-56% to -21%) insulin-like factor 3 level in the highest 5cx-MEPP tertile compared with the lowest. Mono(4-methyl-7-carboxyheptyl) phthalate (7cx-MMeHP, DiNP metabolite) showed elevated odds ratio point estimates for having cryptorchidism (odds ratio = 1.28 [95% CI = 0.80 to 2.01]) and hypospadias (1.69 [0.78 to 3.67]), but was not consistently associated with the steroid hormones or insulin-like factor 3.
Data on the DEHP metabolite indicate possible interference with human male fetal gonadal function. Considering the DiNP metabolite, we cannot exclude (nor statistically confirm) an association with hypospadias and, less strongly, with cryptorchidism.
Numerous studies have been trying to disentangle the complex pathophysiology of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). In our study, we explored the potential role of maternal serum (MS) alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) in the prediction and the pathophysiology of ASD.
A total of 112 patients with ASD and 243 control subjects were included in a case-control study, using a historic birth cohort maintained at Statens Serum Institute. Measurements of MS-AFP were obtained from a multicentre screening program, whereas clinical data were obtained from nationwide registers. Association between MS-AFP and ASD status was analyzed using logistic regression models and nonparametric tests.
Crude, but not adjusted, estimates showed that MS-AFP levels were slightly, but significantly, higher in mothers of children with ASD, compared with their control subject counterparts. People with ASD had an odds ratio of 2.33, with 95% confidence intervals of 1.00 to 5.39, to have MS-AFP above 2.5 multiple of median. Excluding subjects with congenital malformation comorbidities did not alter the direction of our estimates (OR 2.60; 95% CI 1.04 to 6.51, P = 0.04).
Biologic plausibility of its role in the pathophysiology of ASD makes AFP a good candidate for further larger-scale studies to confirm such an association and to determine whether this pattern is unique to ASD or related to other psychiatric disorders as well.
Expanded newborn screening for selected inborn errors of metabolism (IEM) in Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland was introduced in 2002. We now present clinical, biochemical, and statistical results of expanded screening (excluding PKU) of 504,049 newborns during nine years as well as diagnoses and clinical findings in 82,930 unscreened newborns born in the same period. The frequencies of diagnoses made within the panel of disorders screened for are compared with the frequencies of the disorders in the decade preceding expanded newborn screening. The expanded screening was performed as a pilot study during the first seven years, and the experience obtained during these years was used in the development of the routine neonatal screening program introduced in 2009. Methods for screening included tandem mass spectrometry and an assay for determination of biotinidase activity. A total of 310 samples from 504,049 newborns gave positive screening results. Of the 310 results, 114 were true positive, including results from 12 newborns in which the disease in question was subsequently diagnosed in their mothers. Thus, the overall frequency of an IEM in the screening panel was 1:4942 (mothers excluded) or 1:4421 (mothers included). The false positive rate was 0.038% and positive predictive value 37%. Overall specificity was 99.99%. All patients with true positive results were followed in The Center for Inherited Metabolic Disorders in Copenhagen, and the mean follow-up period was 45 months (range 2109 months). There were no deaths among the 102 children, and 94% had no clinically significant sequelae at last follow-up. Our study confirms the higher frequency of selected IEM after implementation of expanded newborn screening and suggests an improved outcome for several disorders. We argue that newborn screening for these disorders should be standard of care, though unresolved issues remain, e.g. about newborns with a potential for remaining asymptomatic throughout life. Well organized logistics of the screening program from screening laboratory to centralized, clinical management is important.
OBJECTIVES: This paper reports on the national neonatal screening programme for congenital toxoplasmosis (CT) in Denmark conducted from 1999 to 2007, including background, basis for initiation of screening, methods, results, and finally reasons for the discontinuation of the screening. METHODS: A nationwide screening was conducted at Statens Serum Institut, including >98% newborns, and using filter paper eluates (Guthrie card, PKU card) obtained from newborns 5-10 days old. These were analysed for Toxoplasma gondii-specific antibodies (IgM), and if positive, then IgM (ISAGA). Confirmatory serology was performed on children and their mothers (IgM, IgG, IgA, dye test) where infection was suspected, and children with suspected or confirmed CT initiated a 3-month treatment regimen with pyrimethamine, sulfadiazine and folinic acid supplements. Selective cohorts were followed with regard to developmental and clinical outcome. RESULTS: A total of 100 children were diagnosed with CT in the screening period, and only 2 cases were detected outside of the screening programme. CT prevalence was 1.6 per 10,000 live-born infants. Follow-up studies showed new retinochoroidal lesions in affected children despite treatment. CONCLUSION: Screening was terminated August 2007, after it became apparent that no benefit of treatment could be shown. CT was evaluated using a Danish adaptation of the Uniform Screening Panel (ACMG), showing CT as an unlikely candidate for screening today. Whereas results might be comparable with other low-endemic countries with similar strains of T. gondii, neonatal screening and treatment might offer different results in regions with either high prevalence or different strains of T. gondii.
Thirty-two genes causing non-syndromic hearing impairment (NSHI) have been cloned, including GJB2 and GJB6 encoding the gap junction subunits connexin 26 and connexin 30, respectively. One mutation in GJB2, 35delG, accounts for a large percentage of GJB2 hearing impairment in Southern Europe whereas a considerably lower frequency has been reported from Northern European populations. Recently, a 342-kb deletion implicating GJB6 was found in 22 out of 44 NSHI patients of Spanish origin with only one mutated allele of GJB2. We report the first study of GJB2 and GJB6 mutations in Danish patients with NSHI. We tested 165 individuals and found GJB2 mutations in 16 individuals. The deletion implicating GJB6 was found in two individuals out of 9 heterozygous for GJB2 mutation. Furthermore, we screened 509 unselected samples from the Danish newborn population for the 35delG mutation in GJB2. We found 9 samples heterozygous for 35delG and 11 samples heterozygous for mutations leading to amino acid variants in GJB2 protein. In conclusion, our data are in accordance with results from other Northern European populations. Furthermore, our data on the GJB6 deletion suggest that routine screening for this deletion could help to explain hearing impairment in some Northern European NSHI patients heterozygous for a mutation in GJB2.
Mounting evidence suggests that immune dysfunction may play a crucial role in the pathophysiology of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). In addition, several studies have reported that congenital and postnatal infections may contribute to the neurobiological basis of ASD. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between infections during pregnancy and after birth, and ASD.
A case-control study design was adopted. Both cases and controls were retrieved from a historic birth cohort (HBC) maintained at Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen/Denmark and were followed up retrospectively during pregnancy and after birth over four pre-defined periods. Study subjects were followed-up utilizing Danish nation-wide health registers for outpatient and hospital admissions due to infections. Associations between infections and ASD were analyzed using Mantel-Haenszel estimate of the odds ratio (OR) and logistic regression models.
In total, 414 ASD cases and 820 controls were followed-up during pregnancy and a mean 16.3 years after birth. Crude, but not adjusted estimates showed that ASD cases had an increased risk of hospital admission due to infection at the end of the first year of life (OR = 1.48 [range: 1.07-2.05], P = 0.02) and at the end of the follow-up period (OR = 1.30 [range: 1.02-1.64], P = 0.03).
The present findings indicate that infections have a potential role in the pathophysiology of ASD; however, further studies are necessary to determine if infections etiologically contribute to ASD or if they act as an epiphenomenon due to distorted immunity in children with ASD.
Medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency (MCADD) is the most common defect of fatty acid oxidation. Many countries have introduced newborn screening for MCADD, because characteristic acylcarnitines can easily be identified in filter paper blood spot samples by tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS), because MCADD is a frequent disease, and because of the success of early treatment initiated before clinical symptoms have emerged. In Denmark we have screened 519,350 newborns for MCADD by MS/MS and identified 58 affected babies. The diagnosis of MCADD was confirmed in all 58 newborns by mutation analysis. This gives an incidence of MCADD detected by newborn screening in Denmark of 1/8954. In sharp contrast to this we found that the incidence of clinically presenting MCADD in Denmark in the 10 year period preceding introduction of MS/MS-based screening was only 1 in 39,691. This means that four times more newborns with MCADD are detected by screening than what is expected based on the number of children presenting clinically in an unscreened population. The mutation spectrum in the newborns detected by screening is different from that observed in clinically presenting patients with a much lower proportion of newborns being homozygous for the prevalent disease-causing c.985A>G mutation. A significant number of the newborns have genotypes with mutations that have not been observed in patients detected clinically. Some of these mutations, like c.199T>C and c.127G>A, are always associated with a milder biochemical phenotype and may cause a milder form of MCADD with a relatively low risk of disease manifestation, thereby explaining part of the discrepancy between the frequency of clinically manifested MCADD and the frequency of MCADD determined by screening. In addition, our data suggest that some of this discrepancy can be explained by a reduced penetrance of the c.985A>G mutation, with perhaps only 50% of c.985A>G homozygotes presenting with disease manifestations. Interestingly, we also report that the observed number of newborns identified by screening who are homozygous for the c.985A>G mutation is twice that predicted from the estimated carrier frequency. We therefore redetermined the carrier frequency in a new sample of 1946 blood spots using a new assay, but this only confirmed that the c.985A>G carrier frequency in Denmark is approximately 1/105. We conclude that MCADD is much more frequent than expected, has a reduced penetrance and that rapid genotyping using the initial blood spot sample is important for correct diagnosis and counseling.
Epidemiological studies indicate that having any family member with schizophrenia increases the risk of schizophrenia in the probands. However, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have accounted for little of this variation. The aim of this study was to use a population-based sample to explore the influence of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on the excess schizophrenia risk in offspring of parents with a psychotic, bipolar affective or other psychiatric disorder.
A nested case-control study with 739 cases with schizophrenia and 800 controls. Their parents and siblings. Information from national health registers and GWAS data from the national neonatal biobank.
Offspring schizophrenia risk was elevated in those whose mother, father or siblings had been diagnosed with schizophrenia or related psychosis, bipolar affective disorder or any other psychiatric disorder. The rate ratio was 9.31 (3.85; 22.44) in offspring whose 1st degree relative was diagnosed with schizophrenia. This rate ranged between 8.31 and 11.34 when adjusted for each SNP individually and shrank to 8.23 (3.13; 21.64) when adjusted for 25% of the SNP-variation in candidate genes. The percentage of the excess risk associated with a family history of schizophrenia mediated through genome-wide SNP-variation ranged between -6.1%(-17.0%;2.6%) and 4.1%(-3.9%;15.2%). Analogous results were seen for each parent and for histories of bipolar affective and other psychiatric diagnoses.
The excess risk of schizophrenia in offspring of parents who have a psychotic, bipolar affective or other psychiatric disorder is not currently explained by the SNP variation included in this study in accordance with findings from published genetic studies.