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1.  Peripheral blood gene expression signature differentiates children with autism from unaffected siblings 
Neurogenetics  2013;14(2):143-152.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is one of the most prevalent neurodevelopmental disorders with high heritability, yet a majority of genetic contribution to pathophysiology is not known. Siblings of individuals with ASD are at increased risk for ASD and autistic traits, but the genetic contribution for simplex families is estimated to be less when compared to multiplex families. To explore the genomic (dis-) similarity between proband and unaffected sibling in simplex families, we used genome-wide gene expression profiles of blood from 20 proband-unaffected sibling pairs and 18 unrelated control individuals. The global gene expression profiles of unaffected siblings were more similar to those from probands as they shared genetic and environmental background. One hundred eighty nine genes were significantly differentially expressed between proband-sib pairs (nominal p-value < 0.01) after controlling for age, sex, and family effects. Probands and siblings were distinguished into two groups by cluster analysis with these genes. Overall, unaffected siblings were equally distant from the centroid of probands and from that of unrelated controls with the differentially expressed genes. Interestingly, 5 of 20 siblings had gene expression profiles that were more similar to unrelated controls than to their matched probands. In summary, we found a set of genes that distinguished probands from the unaffected siblings, and a subgroup of unaffected siblings who were more similar to probands. The pathways that characterized probands compared to siblings using peripheral blood gene expression profiles were the up-regulation of ribosomal, spliceosomal, and mitochondrial pathways, and the down-regulation of neuroreceptor-ligand, immune response and calcium signaling pathways. Further integrative study with structural genetic variations such as de novo mutations, rare variants, and copy number variations would clarify whether these transcriptomic changes are structural or environmental in origin.
doi:10.1007/s10048-013-0363-z
PMCID: PMC3686296  PMID: 23625158
autism spectrum disorders; unaffected sibling; simplex family; gene expression
2.  Differences in the prevalence of growth, endocrine and vitamin D abnormalities among the various thalassemia syndromes in North America 
British journal of haematology  2009;146(5):546-556.
Objective
To determine differences in the rates of growth, endocrine and calcium related abnormalities in the various thalassemia syndromes in North America with current therapy.
Methods
Medical history, physical examinations and blood and urine collections were obtained from patients with all thalassemia syndromes age 6 years and older in the Thalassemia Clinical Research Network.
Results
361 subjects, 49% male, mean age 23.2 years (range 6.1 to 75 years) were studied. Approximately 25% of children and adults, regardless of the thalassemia syndrome, had short stature. Overall growth in children was mildly affected. Final height was close to midparental height (z = -0.73 ┬▒ 1.24). Patients with beta thalassemia major (TM) had higher rates of hypogonadism, multiple endocrinopathies, worse hyperglycemia, subclinical hypoparathyroidism and hypercalciuria. Hypogonadism remained the most frequent endocrinopathy and was frequently under-treated. 12.8% of the subjects had 25 vitamin D concentrations less than 27nmol/L and 82% less than 75nmol/L, regardless of the thalassemia syndrome. Adolescents had lower 25 vitamin D levels than children and adults.
Conclusions
Compared to patients with other thalassemia syndromes, those with beta TM suffer from higher rates of multiple endocrinopathies, abnormal calcium metabolism and hypercalciuria. Vitamin D abnormalities are high among adolescents.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-2141.2009.07793.x
PMCID: PMC2798591  PMID: 19604241

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