Washington: In a small study, Johns Hopkins researchers found that DNA from the sperm of men whose children had early signs of autism shows distinct patterns of regulatory tags that could contribute to the condition. A detailed report of their findings is published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
Autism spectrum disorder (autism) affects one in 68 children in the US. Although studies have identified some culprit genes, most cases remain unexplained. But most experts agree that autism is usually inherited, since the condition tends to run in families. In this study, investigators looked for possible causes for the condition not in genes themselves, but in the “epigenetic tags” that help regulate genes’ activity.
The researchers collected DNA from each sperm sample and looked for epigenetic tags at 450,000 different positions throughout the genome. They then compared the likelihood of a tag being in a particular site with the AOSI scores of each child. They found 193 different sites where the presence or absence of a tag was statistically related to the AOSI scores.