Autism and CFS linked in families
Laurette Janak noticed this correlation some years ago, and she contacted me because I had had a short article published in the Townsend Letter linking CFS and autism. Laurette had observed that several of the mothers of autistic children whom she knew had CFS.
We were interviewed together by Teri Small (now Teri Aranga) on AutismOne Radio. I think the interview is no longer in their archives now, but we made the case that CFS and autism appear to be the same disorder, differing by age at onset, which produces the differences in symptoms and epidemiology.
Laurette went on to get Jill James interested in doing a study, and she has published one paper showing that the parents of autistic children also have abnormalities in their methylation cycle related metabolites. However, it is not clear whether this results from a genetic cause, or whether it is simply due to the stress involved in having an autistic child.
The abstract of the paper is below. The full paper is available free from PubMed.
J Autism Dev Disord. 2008 Nov;38(10):1966-75. Epub 2008 May 30.
Abnormal transmethylation/transsulfuration metabolism and DNA hypomethylation among parents of children with autism.
James SJ, Melnyk S, Jernigan S, Hubanks A, Rose S, Gaylor DW.
Department of Pediatrics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR 72202, USA. email@example.com
* J Autism Dev Disord. 2008 Nov;38(10):1976. Jill James, S [corrected to James, S Jill].
An integrated metabolic profile reflects the combined influence of genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors that affect the candidate pathway of interest. Recent evidence suggests that some autistic children may have reduced detoxification capacity and may be under chronic oxidative stress. Based on reports of abnormal methionine and glutathione metabolism in autistic children, it was of interest to examine the same metabolic profile in the parents. The results indicated that parents share similar metabolic deficits in methylation capacity and glutathione-dependent antioxidant/detoxification capacity observed in many autistic children. Studies are underway to determine whether the abnormal profile in parents reflects linked genetic polymorphisms in these pathways or whether it simply reflects the chronic stress of coping with an autistic child.
PMID: 18512136 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]