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Association between asmt and autistic-like traits in children from a swedish nationwide cohort.

Journal article
Authors Lina Jonsson
Henrik Anckarsäter
Anna Zettergren
Lars Westberg
Hasse Walum
Sebastian Lundström
Henrik Larsson
Paul Lichtenstein
Jonas Melke
Published in Psychiatric Genetics
Volume 24
Issue 1
Pages 21-27
ISSN 0955-8829
Publication year 2014
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Pharmacology
Pages 21-27
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1097/YPG.000000000000...
Keywords acetylserotonin O-methyltransferase, autism spectrum disorders, autistic-like traits, melatonin, polymorphism
Subject categories Basic Medicine, Child and adolescent psychiatry

Abstract

Individuals with autism spectrum disorders often show low levels of melatonin, and it has been suggested that this decrease may be because of the low activity of the acetylserotonin O-methyltransferase (ASMT), the last enzyme in the melatonin-synthesis pathway. Also, genetic variants in ASMT have been associated with autism, as well as with low ASMT activity and melatonin levels, suggesting that the low ASMT activity observed in autism may partly be because of variations within the ASMT gene. In this study, we present a symptom-based approach to investigate possible associations between ASMT and autistic-like traits in the general population. To this end, continuous measures of autistic-like traits were assessed in a nationally representative twin cohort (n=1771) from Sweden and six single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), and a duplication of exons 2–8 in ASMT were genotyped. Our results show a nominally significant association, in girls, between one single nucleotide polymorphism (rs5949028) in the last intron of ASMT and social interaction impairments. No significant association, however, was observed with traits related to language impairment or restricted and repetitive behavior. In conclusion, our results support the possible involvement of the ASMT gene in autism spectrum disorders, and our finding that only one of the three traits shows association suggests that genetic research may benefit from adopting a symptom-specific approach to identify genes involved in autism psychopathology.

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