The Autism Simplex Collection: an international, expertly phenotyped autism sample for genetic and phenotypic analyses
Joseph D. Buxbaum
Jessica M. Brownfeld
Richard J. L. Anney
Edwin H. Cook,
Christine M. Freitag
Sabine M. Klauck
John I. Nurnberger
Stephen W. Scherer
James S. Sutcliffe
Astrid M. Vicente
- Background: There is an urgent need for expanding and enhancing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) samples, in order to better understand causes of ASD.
Methods: In a unique public-private partnership, 13 sites with extensive experience in both the assessment and diagnosis of ASD embarked on an ambitious, 2-year program to collect samples for genetic and phenotypic research and begin analyses on these samples. The program was called The Autism Simplex Collection (TASC). TASC sample collection began in 2008 and was completed in 2010, and included nine sites from North America and four sites from Western Europe, as well as a centralized Data Coordinating Center.
Results: Over 1,700 trios are part of this collection, with DNA from transformed cells now available through the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) and Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-Generic (ADOS-G) measures are available for all probands, as are standardized IQ measures, Vineland Adaptive Behavioral Scales (VABS), the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS), Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT), and physical measures (height, weight, and head circumference). At almost every site, additional phenotypic measures were collected, including the Broad Autism Phenotype Questionnaire (BAPQ) and Repetitive Behavior Scale-Revised (RBS-R), as well as the non-word repetition scale, Communication Checklist (Children?s or Adult), and Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC). Moreover, for nearly 1,000 trios, the Autism Genome Project Consortium (AGP) has carried out Illumina 1?M SNP genotyping and called copy number variation (CNV) in the samples, with data being made available through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Whole exome sequencing (WES) has been carried out in over 500 probands, together with ancestry matched controls, and this data is also available through the NIH. Additional WES is being carried out by the Autism Sequencing Consortium (ASC), where the focus is on sequencing complete trios. ASC sequencing for the first 1,000 samples (all from whole-blood DNA) is complete and data will be released in 2014. Data is being made available through NIH databases (database of Genotypes and Phenotypes (dbGaP) and National Database for Autism Research (NDAR)) with DNA released in Dist 11.0. Primary funding for the collection, genotyping, sequencing and distribution of TASC samples was provided by Autism Speaks and the NIH, including the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Human Genetics Research Institute (NHGRI).
Conclusions: TASC represents an important sample set that leverages expert sites. Similar approaches, leveraging expert sites and ongoing studies, represent an important path towards further enhancing available ASD samples.
Treadmill walking during vocabulary encoding improves verbal long-term memory
- Moderate physical activity improves various cognitive functions, particularly when it is applied simultaneously to the cognitive task. In two psychoneuroendocrinological within-subject experiments, we investigated whether very low-intensity motor activity, i.e. walking, during foreign-language vocabulary encoding improves subsequent recall compared to encoding during physical rest. Furthermore, we examined the kinetics of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in serum and salivary cortisol. Previous research has associated both substances with memory performance.In both experiments, subjects performed better when they were motorically active during encoding compared to being sedentary. BDNF in serum was unrelated to memory performance. In contrast we found a positive correlation between salivary cortisol concentration and the number of correctly recalled items. In summary, even very light physical activity during encoding is beneficial for subsequent recall.
A multi-resource data integration approach: identification of candidate genes regulating cell proliferation during neocortical development
Cynthia M. Vied
Alexandre A. S. F. Raposo
Richard S. Nowakowski
- Neurons of the mammalian neocortex are produced by proliferating cells located in the ventricular zone (VZ) lining the lateral ventricles. This is a complex and sequential process, requiring precise control of cell cycle progression, fate commitment and differentiation. We have analyzed publicly available databases from mouse and human to identify candidate genes that are potentially involved in regulating early neocortical development and neurogenesis. We used a mouse in situ hybridization dataset (The Allen Institute for Brain Science) to identify 13 genes (Cdon, Celsr1, Dbi, E2f5, Eomes, Hmgn2, Neurog2, Notch1, Pcnt, Sox3, Ssrp1, Tead2, Tgif2) with high correlation of expression in the proliferating cells of the VZ of the neocortex at early stages of development (E15.5). We generated a similar human brain network using microarray and RNA-seq data (BrainSpan Atlas) and identified 407 genes with high expression in the developing human VZ and subventricular zone (SVZ) at 8–9 post-conception weeks. Seven of the human genes were also present in the mouse VZ network. The human and mouse networks were extended using available genetic and proteomic datasets through GeneMANIA. A gene ontology search of the mouse and human networks indicated that many of the genes are involved in the cell cycle, DNA replication, mitosis and transcriptional regulation. The reported involvement of Cdon, Celsr1, Dbi, Eomes, Neurog2, Notch1, Pcnt, Sox3, Tead2, and Tgif2 in neural development or diseases resulting from the disruption of neurogenesis validates these candidate genes. Taken together, our knowledge-based discovery method has validated the involvement of many genes already known to be involved in neocortical development and extended the potential number of genes by 100's, many of which are involved in functions related to cell proliferation but others of which are potential candidates for involvement in the regulation of neocortical development.
Spatiotemporal dynamics of brain activation in multiple sclerosis patients and healthy control subjects : a TMS-EEG study
Carl Moritz Zipser
- Aim: The aim of this study was to measure cortico-cortical connectivity in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients by TMS-evoked potential (TEP) latencies in EEG evoked by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the hand area of the primary motor cortex of one hemisphere. TEPs were recorded on the stimulated- and at the homologue site in the non-stimulated contralateral hemisphere. Both interhemispheric directions were tested. Interhemispheric latencies of the two main reproducible TEPs, the positive component at 60 ms and the negative component at 100 ms (P60 and N100, respectively), were expected to be significantly prolonged in MS-patients compared to healthy volunteers.
Material and methods: The study compared interhemispheric propagation of P60 and N100 in groups of 12 patients with early-stage relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) and 16 age- and gender-matched healthy controls. The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Medical Faculty of the Goethe-University of Frankfurt/Main and conformed to the latest revision of the Declaration of Helsinki of 2008. TEPs were recorded by means of EEG and their latencies were statistically evaluated in 10 channels around the stimulation site and in 10 corresponding electrodes in the non-stimulated contralateral hemisphere. Interhemispheric conduction time was calculated by the difference of TEP latency in non-stimulated vs. stimulated hemisphere.
Results: An ANOVA on interhemispheric conduction time showed a significant prolongation for the N100 from left to right hemisphere in MS compared to controls, while no group differences were found for the P60 and the N100 from right to left hemisphere.
Conclusion: The results provide first evidence that the N100 may constitute an interesting marker to measure interhemispheric conduction delays in early-stage RRMS. The specificity of the present finding and its relation to fiber tract pathology should be examined in further correlative analyses with diffusion tensor imaging and other structural MRI data.
Efficient Transfer Entropy Analysis of Non-Stationary Neural Time Series
Francisco J. Díaz-Pernas
- Information theory allows us to investigate information processing in neural systems in terms of information transfer, storage and modification. Especially the measure of information transfer, transfer entropy, has seen a dramatic surge of interest in neuroscience. Estimating transfer entropy from two processes requires the observation of multiple realizations of these processes to estimate associated probability density functions. To obtain these necessary observations, available estimators typically assume stationarity of processes to allow pooling of observations over time. This assumption however, is a major obstacle to the application of these estimators in neuroscience as observed processes are often non-stationary. As a solution, Gomez-Herrero and colleagues theoretically showed that the stationarity assumption may be avoided by estimating transfer entropy from an ensemble of realizations. Such an ensemble of realizations is often readily available in neuroscience experiments in the form of experimental trials. Thus, in this work we combine the ensemble method with a recently proposed transfer entropy estimator to make transfer entropy estimation applicable to non-stationary time series. We present an efficient implementation of the approach that is suitable for the increased computational demand of the ensemble method's practical application. In particular, we use a massively parallel implementation for a graphics processing unit to handle the computationally most heavy aspects of the ensemble method for transfer entropy estimation. We test the performance and robustness of our implementation on data from numerical simulations of stochastic processes. We also demonstrate the applicability of the ensemble method to magnetoencephalographic data. While we mainly evaluate the proposed method for neuroscience data, we expect it to be applicable in a variety of fields that are concerned with the analysis of information transfer in complex biological, social, and artificial systems.
Prediction of the age at onset in spinocerebellar ataxia type 1, 2, 3 and 6
Sophie Tezenas du Montcel
Bart P. van de Warrenburg
Roberto Di Fabio
- Background The most common spinocerebellar ataxias (SCA)—SCA1, SCA2, SCA3, and SCA6—are caused by (CAG)n repeat expansion. While the number of repeats of the coding (CAG)n expansions is correlated with the age at onset, there are no appropriate models that include both affected and preclinical carriers allowing for the prediction of age at onset.
Methods We combined data from two major European cohorts of SCA1, SCA2, SCA3, and SCA6 mutation carriers: 1187 affected individuals from the EUROSCA registry and 123 preclinical individuals from the RISCA cohort. For each SCA genotype, a regression model was fitted using a log-normal distribution for age at onset with the repeat length of the alleles as covariates. From these models, we calculated expected age at onset from birth and conditionally that this age is greater than the current age.
Results For SCA2 and SCA3 genotypes, the expanded allele was a significant predictor of age at onset (−0.105±0.005 and −0.056±0.003) while for SCA1 and SCA6 genotypes both the size of the expanded and normal alleles were significant (expanded: −0.049±0.002 and −0.090±0.009, respectively; normal: +0.013±0.005 and −0.029±0.010, respectively). According to the model, we indicated the median values (90% critical region) and the expectancy (SD) of the predicted age at onset for each SCA genotype according to the CAG repeat size and current age.
Conclusions These estimations can be valuable in clinical and research. However, results need to be confirmed in other independent cohorts and in future longitudinal studies.
Obesity and associated lifestyle in a large sample of multi-morbid german primary care attendees
Juliana J. Petersen
Hendrik van den Bussche
Steffi G. Riedel-Heller
- Background: Obesity and the accompanying increased morbidity and mortality risk is highly prevalent among older adults. As obese elderly might benefit from intentional weight reduction, it is necessary to determine associated and potentially modifiable factors on senior obesity. This cross-sectional study focuses on multi-morbid patients which make up the majority in primary care. It reports on the prevalence of senior obesity and its associations with lifestyle behaviors.
Methods: A total of 3,189 non-demented, multi-morbid participants aged 65–85 years were recruited in primary care within the German MultiCare-study. Physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption and quantity and quality of nutritional intake were classified as relevant lifestyle factors. Body Mass Index (BMI, general obesity) and waist circumference (WC, abdominal obesity) were used as outcome measures and regression analyses were conducted.
Results: About one third of all patients were classified as obese according to BMI. The prevalence of abdominal obesity was 73.5%. Adjusted for socio-demographic variables and objective and subjective disease burden, participants with low physical activity had a 1.6 kg/m2 higher BMI as well as a higher WC (4.9 cm, p<0.001). Current smoking and high alcohol consumption were associated with a lower BMI and WC. In multivariate logistic regression, using elevated WC and BMI as categorical outcomes, the same pattern in lifestyle factors was observed. Only for WC, not current but former smoking was associated with a higher probability for elevated WC. Dietary intake in quantity and quality was not associated with BMI or WC in either model.
Conclusions: Further research is needed to clarify if the huge prevalence discrepancy between BMI and WC also reflects a difference in obesity-related morbidity and mortality. Yet, age-specific thresholds for the BMI are needed likewise. Encouraging and promoting physical activity in older adults might a starting point for weight reduction efforts.
Prevalence, Determinants and Patterns of Multimorbidity in Primary Care: A Systematic Review of Observational Studies
Jose M. Valderas
- Introduction: Multimorbidity is a major concern in primary care. Nevertheless, evidence of prevalence and patterns of multimorbidity, and their determinants, are scarce. The aim of this study is to systematically review studies of the prevalence, patterns and determinants of multimorbidity in primary care.
Methods: Systematic review of literature published between 1961 and 2013 and indexed in Ovid (CINAHL, PsychINFO, Medline and Embase) and Web of Knowledge. Studies were selected according to eligibility criteria of addressing prevalence, determinants, and patterns of multimorbidity and using a pretested proforma in primary care. The quality and risk of bias were assessed using STROBE criteria. Two researchers assessed the eligibility of studies for inclusion (Kappa = 0.86).
Results: We identified 39 eligible publications describing studies that included a total of 70,057,611 patients in 12 countries. The number of health conditions analysed per study ranged from 5 to 335, with multimorbidity prevalence ranging from 12.9% to 95.1%. All studies observed a significant positive association between multimorbidity and age (odds ratio [OR], 1.26 to 227.46), and lower socioeconomic status (OR, 1.20 to 1.91). Positive associations with female gender and mental disorders were also observed. The most frequent patterns of multimorbidity included osteoarthritis together with cardiovascular and/or metabolic conditions.
Conclusions: Well-established determinants of multimorbidity include age, lower socioeconomic status and gender. The most prevalent conditions shape the patterns of multimorbidity. However, the limitations of the current evidence base means that further and better designed studies are needed to inform policy, research and clinical practice, with the goal of improving health-related quality of life for patients with multimorbidity. Standardization of the definition and assessment of multimorbidity is essential in order to better understand this phenomenon, and is a necessary immediate step.
Serum Autotaxin Is a Parameter for the Severity of Liver Cirrhosis and Overall Survival in Patients with Liver Cirrhosis – A Prospective Cohort Study
- Background: Autotaxin (ATX) and its product lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) are considered to be involved in the development of liver fibrosis and elevated levels of serum ATX have been found in patients with hepatitis C virus associated liver fibrosis. However, the clinical role of systemic ATX in the stages of liver cirrhosis was unknown. Here we investigated the relation of ATX serum levels and severity of cirrhosis as well as prognosis of cirrhotic patients.
Methods: Patients with liver cirrhosis were prospectively enrolled and followed until death, liver transplantation or last contact. Blood samples drawn at the day of inclusion in the study were assessed for ATX content by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. ATX levels were correlated with the stage as well as complications of cirrhosis. The prognostic value of ATX was investigated by uni- and multivariate Cox regression analyses. LPA concentration was determined by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.
Results: 270 patients were enrolled. Subjects with liver cirrhosis showed elevated serum levels of ATX as compared to healthy subjects (0.814±0.42 mg/l vs. 0.258±0.40 mg/l, P<0.001). Serum ATX levels correlated with the Child-Pugh stage and the MELD (model of end stage liver disease) score and LPA levels (r = 0.493, P = 0.027). Patients with hepatic encephalopathy (P = 0.006), esophageal varices (P = 0.002) and portal hypertensive gastropathy (P = 0.008) had higher ATX levels than patients without these complications. Low ATX levels were a parameter independently associated with longer overall survival (hazard ratio 0.575, 95% confidence interval 0.365–0.905, P = 0.017).
Conclusion: Serum ATX is an indicator for the severity of liver disease and the prognosis of cirrhotic patients.
Phenotypic Characterization of miR-92a−/− Mice Reveals an Important Function of miR-92a in Skeletal Development
Ralf P. Brandes
Andreas M. Zeiher
- MicroRNAs (miRNAs, miRs) emerged as key regulators of gene expression. Germline hemizygous deletion of the gene that encodes the miR-17~92 miRNA cluster was associated with microcephaly, short stature and digital abnormalities in humans. Mice deficient for the miR-17~92 cluster phenocopy several features such as growth and skeletal development defects and exhibit impaired B cell development. However, the individual contribution of miR-17~92 cluster members to this phenotype is unknown. Here we show that germline deletion of miR-92a in mice is not affecting heart development and does not reduce circulating or bone marrow-derived hematopoietic cells, but induces skeletal defects. MiR-92a−/− mice are born at a reduced Mendelian ratio, but surviving mice are viable and fertile. However, body weight of miR-92a−/− mice was reduced during embryonic and postnatal development and adulthood. A significantly reduced body and skull length was observed in miR-92a−/− mice compared to wild type littermates. µCT analysis revealed that the length of the 5th mesophalanx to 5th metacarpal bone of the forelimbs was significantly reduced, but bones of the hindlimbs were not altered. Bone density was not affected. These findings demonstrate that deletion of miR-92a is sufficient to induce a developmental skeletal defect.