Project 1, Epidemiology & Environment, will leverage existing resources from two large epidemiologic studies to address the potential contribution from several common household exposures to risk for an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), separately and in combination with certain genomic or epigenetic profiles. The two existing investigations are: the population-based case-control CHARGE (CWildhood Autism Risk from Genetics and Environment) Study, and MARBLES (Markers of Autism Risk in Babies?Learning Early Signs), a cohort study following pregnant women who previously delivered a child that developed autism to understand what influences the outcome of the younger sibling and to identify early markers of ASD. Chemical classes of interest for Project 1 are: polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs, used as flame retardants), their hydroxylated metabolites, perfluorinated compounds (PFCs, used as coatings on non-stick cookware, textiles, food packaging, etc.), and pyrethroid insecticides (used in sprays and foggers to control ants, cockroaches, flies and mosquitos, and on pets to control fleas). Chemical determinations made in Core C in various media (plasma, urine, breastmilk) will be supplemented by toxicokinetic modeling and exposures assessed by questionnaire and other data sources. These will be examined in relation to child's developmental status, i.e., ASD, developmental delay (DD), specific speech /language delay, and other trajectories, and for associations with markers of immune function generated in Project 3, and epigenetic markers from Project 2. Differential impact of the PBDEs, PFCs, and pyrethroids will be evaluated based on relevant genetic polymorphisms, CNVs, or measures of global DNA methylation, considering mechanistic pathways that link to these compounds. Finally, with the bio-informatics team at Pennsylvania State Univ, we will explore, in discovery-oriented mode, a wide array of exposures from biologic specimens, interviews, and medical records, along with the genetic and epigenetic data.

Public Health Relevance

This project squarely addresses the critical question: 'What causes autism?' As rates of ASD (autism spectrum disorder) continue to climb, the burden on our communities becomes a major public health concern. By identifying modifiable risk factors, this project lays the groundwork for the development of prevention strategies, and by identifying early markers, it also provides the foundation for effective interventions.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Research Program Projects (P01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZES1)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of California Davis
United States
Zip Code
Vogel Ciernia, Annie; Pride, Michael C; Durbin-Johnson, Blythe et al. (2017) Early motor phenotype detection in a female mouse model of Rett syndrome is improved by cross-fostering. Hum Mol Genet 26:1839-1854
Sethi, S; Chen, X; Kass, P H et al. (2017) Polychlorinated biphenyl and polybrominated diphenyl ether profiles in serum from cattle, sheep, and goats across California. Chemosphere 181:63-73
Dunaway, Keith; Goorha, Sarita; Matelski, Lauren et al. (2017) Dental Pulp Stem Cells Model Early Life and Imprinted DNA Methylation Patterns. Stem Cells 35:981-988
Aschner, Michael; Ceccatelli, Sandra; Daneshian, Mardas et al. (2017) Reference compounds for alternative test methods to indicate developmental neurotoxicity (DNT) potential of chemicals: example lists and criteria for their selection and use. ALTEX 34:49-74
Krakowiak, Paula; Goines, Paula E; Tancredi, Daniel J et al. (2017) Neonatal Cytokine Profiles Associated With Autism Spectrum Disorder. Biol Psychiatry 81:442-451
Meltzer, Amory; Van de Water, Judy (2017) The Role of the Immune System in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology 42:284-298
Sethi, Sunjay; Keil, Kimberly P; Chen, Hao et al. (2017) Detection of 3,3'-Dichlorobiphenyl in Human Maternal Plasma and Its Effects on Axonal and Dendritic Growth in Primary Rat Neurons. Toxicol Sci 158:401-411
Bal-Price, Anna; Lein, Pamela J; Keil, Kimberly P et al. (2017) Developing and applying the adverse outcome pathway concept for understanding and predicting neurotoxicity. Neurotoxicology 59:240-255
Holland, Erika B; Feng, Wei; Zheng, Jing et al. (2017) An Extended Structure-Activity Relationship of Nondioxin-Like PCBs Evaluates and Supports Modeling Predictions and Identifies Picomolar Potency of PCB 202 Towards Ryanodine Receptors. Toxicol Sci 155:170-181
Edmiston, Elizabeth; Ashwood, Paul; Van de Water, Judy (2017) Autoimmunity, Autoantibodies, and Autism Spectrum Disorder. Biol Psychiatry 81:383-390

Showing the most recent 10 out of 301 publications