Serum Zinc and Copper Levels in Autistic Children

NeuroReport 25 (15) 2014In collaboration with Chinese researchers, Geir Bjørklund investigated the serum levels of zinc (Zn) and copper (Cu) in 60 Chinese children with autism (48 boys, 12 girls) and a control group of 60 healthy sex-matched and age-matched individuals. The researchers also evaluated the severity of autism using the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) score. The mean serum Zn levels and Zn/Cu ratio in the study were significantly lower in the autistic children compared with the control group (P<0.001). At the same time were the serum Cu levels significantly higher in the autistic children compared with the control group (P<0.001). It was in the study found a significant negative association between the Zn/Cu ratio and CARS scores (r=-0.345, P=0.007). 

The original article is published in NeuroReport (2014; 25 (15): 1216–1220). Bjørklund is founder and president of Council for Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (CONEM).

 

Si-Ou Li, Jia-Liang Wang, Geir Bjørklund, Wei-Na Zhao, and Chang-Hao Yin

Serum copper and zinc levels in individuals with autism spectrum disorders

Neuroreport 2014; 25 (15): 1216-1220

 

ABSTRACT

Trace elements play a critical role in the pathogenesis of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The aim of this study was to investigate the serum levels of zinc (Zn) and copper (Cu) in Chinese children with ASD. Sixty patients (48 males, 12 females) diagnosed with ASD and 60 healthy sex-matched and age-matched control participants were assessed for serum Zn and Cu content at admission. The severity of ASD was also evaluated using the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) score. The results indicated that the mean serum Zn levels and Zn/Cu ratio were significantly lower in children with ASD compared with normal cases (P<0.001, respectively), whereas serum Cu levels were significantly higher (P<0.001). There was a significant negative association between Zn/Cu and CARS scores (r=-0.345, P=0.007). On the basis of the receiver operating characteristic curve, the optimal cut-off value of serum levels of Zn/Cu as an indicator for an auxiliary diagnosis of autism was projected to be 0.665, which yielded a sensitivity of 90.0% and a specificity of 91.7%; the area under the curve was 0.968 (95% confidence interval, 0.943-0.993). In conclusion, these results suggested an association between serum levels of Zn and Cu and ASD among Chinese patients, and the Zn/Cu ratio could be considered a biomarker of ASD.

 

Metal-Induced Inflammation Triggers Fibromyalgia in Metal-Allergic Patients

Stejskal, Öckert, and Bjørklund studied the frequency and clinical relevance of metal allergy in 15 fibromylagia (FM) patients (1). Metal allergy was measured by a lymphocyte transformation test, MELISA®. Ten healthy age matched women were used as controls. Reduction of metal exposure in the FM patients was achieved by replacement of dental metal restorations and by the avoidance of known sources of metal exposure. Objective health assessment was performed 5 years after treatment. Subjective health assessment was established by a questionnaire, completed 2, 5 and in some cases 10 years after the start of the study. Follow-up MELISA was also performed. All FM patients tested positive to at least one of the metals tested. Objective examination 5 years later showed that half of the patients no longer fulfilled the FM diagnosis, 20% had improved and the remaining 30% still had FM. All patients reported subjective health improvement.

Vera Stejskal is Associate Professor of Immunology at University of Stockholm, Sweden. She is founder and president of the MELISA Medica Foundation. Karin Öckert is a pensioned Swedish dentist/specialist in periodontics. Geir Bjørklund is founder and president of the Council for Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (CONEM).

Reference
1. Stejskal V, Öckert K, Bjørklund G. Metal-induced inflammation triggers fibromyalgia in metal-allergic patients. Neuro Endocrinol Lett 2013; 34: 559-565.

 

Identifying Individuals at Risk of Developing ASIA Syndrome

Vera Stejskal, PhD is Associate Professor of Immunology at University of Stockholm, Sweden. She is founder and president of the MELISA Medica Foundation. Stejskal discusses in a recent editorial article in the Israel Medical Association Journal (IMAJ) how, despite widespread exposure to metals, only a minority of people develop allergic and autoimmune disorders such as ASIA syndrome (1). In order to protect these individuals, identifying clinical and laboratory markers of susceptibility is key. Mercury and other metals can be added to the list of environmental agents that contribute to ASIA syndrome. Together with screening for autoantibodies, metal-specific T cells can be used  to identify at-risk individuals. Dr. Stejskal is a CONEM member.

Reference
Stejskal V. Mercury-induced inflammation: yet another example of ASIA syndrome. Isr Med Assoc J 2013; 15: 714–715.

Agent-Centered Deontology: The Minamata Convention on Mercury and Dentistry’s Role

The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a global, legally binding treaty which opened for signature on October 10, 2013 in Japan. To address the global oral health and environmental impact of mercury dental amalgam fillings, first author Tim K. Mackey and co-authors John T. Contreras and Bryan A. Liang collaborated on a peer-reviewed scientific journal article entitled The Minamata Convention on Mercury: Attempting to address the global controversy of dental amalgam use and mercury waste disposal published by Elsevier in Science of the Total Environment (1). The article gives an introduction to the international debate regarding mercury use in dental amalgam, examines the unresolved global dental amalgam controversy from an environmental and dental professional society perspective, describes the Convention’s provisions to phase-down the use of dental amalgam, and proposes a tiered programmatic policy approach to strengthen the implementation phase of the Convention.

On behalf of the United States of America, the Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs simultaneously signed and ratified the Convention on November 6, 2013. The nation’s quick ratification of the treaty reflects the belief that the country can implement treaty-bound obligations under existing legislative and regulatory authority. To offer their opinion on the clinical dentist’s amalgam governance leadership role in America, first author John T. Contreras and co-authors Tim K. Mackey and Bryan A. Liang collaborated on a viewpoint article entitled Global Amalgam Governance: The Need for Clinician Leadership – Grassroots education and action from dentists are needed next steps, published by AEGIS Communications in Inside Dentistry (2). The article addresses the following matters of concern: the treaty’s permissive language regarding mercury amalgam use and disposal; mercury vapor exposure to patients and dental workers; mercury amalgam waste contamination of the environment; the dental clinician’s role as a leading stakeholder in choosing to continue, phasedown, or phaseout use of amalgam; and the dental professional’s ethical and legal duties to society. According to the authors, the future of global oral health and protection of the environment likely depends on clinical dentists’ leadership. John T. Contreras, D.D.S. is a CONEM member.

 

References

1. Mackey TK, Contreras JT, Liang BA. The Minamata Convention on Mercury: Attempting to address the global controversy of dental amalgam use and mercury waste disposal. Sci Total Environ 2013; 472C: 125-129. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.10.115.

2. Contreras JT, Mackey TK, Liang BA. Global amalgam governance: The need for clinician leadership. Grassroots education and action from dentists are needed next steps. Inside Dentistry 2014; 10 (1): 30-32. http://www.dentalaegis.com/id/2014/01 (13.1. 2014).

 

The Role of Zinc and Copper in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Acta Neurobiol Exp 2013, 2Children with Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) appear to be at risk for zinc (Zn) deficiency, copper (Cu) toxicity, have often low Zn/Cu ratio, and often disturbed metallothionein (MT) system functioning. The evidence presented in this paper suggests that providing Zn to autistic children may be an important component of a treatment protocol, especially in children with Zn deficiency. It is important to monitor and follow the values for both Cu and Zn together during Zn therapy, because these two trace elements are both antagonists in function, and essential for living cells. 

The review article by Geir Bjørklund is published in Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis (2013; 73 (2): 225–236). This peer-reviewed journal is published by Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology in Warsaw, Poland. Bjørklund is founder and president of Council for Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (CONEM).

 

Geir Bjørklund

The role of zinc and copper in autism spectrum disorders

Acta Neurobiol Exp (Wars) 2013; 73 (2): 225-236 

 

ABSTRACT

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. Several studies have suggested a disturbance in the copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) metabolism in ASDs. Zinc deficiency, excess Cu levels, and low Zn/Cu ratio are common in children diagnosed with an ASD. The literature also suggests that mercury accumulation may occur as a cause or consequence of metallothionein (MT) dysfunction in children diagnosed with an ASD, which may be one of the causes of Zn deficiency. MTs are proteins with important functions in metal metabolism and protection. Zinc and Cu bind to and participate in the control of the synthesis of MT proteins. Studies indicate that the GABAergic system may be involved in ASDs, and that Zn and Cu may play a role in this system.

 

Letter To The Deans Of Dentistry

This is an open letter from  Robert Gammal, BDS (July 2011): “Dental students are the only students who are routinely poisoned by mercury, the third most toxic, non-radioactive substance known, without their knowledge or consent.  Only arsenic and lead are more toxic than mercury.  The consequences are horrific.” Dr. Gammal is secretary of the Australian Society of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (ASOMAT), and a CONEM member. Read The Letter