Commenced in January 2007
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Paper Count: 2

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2 Association between a Forward Lag of Historical Total Accumulated Gasoline Lead Emissions and Contemporary Autism Prevalence Trends in California, USA

Authors: Mark A. S. Laidlaw, Howard W. Mielke


In California between the late 1920’s and 1986 the lead concentrations in urban soils and dust climbed rapidly following the deposition of greater than 387,000 tonnes of lead emitted from gasoline. Previous research indicates that when children are lead exposed around 90% of the lead is retained in their bones and teeth due to the substitution of lead for calcium. Lead in children’s bones has been shown to accumulate over time and is highest in inner-city urban areas, lower in suburban areas and lowest in rural areas. It is also known that women’s bones demineralize during pregnancy due to the foetus's high demand for calcium. Lead accumulates in women’s bones during childhood and the accumulated lead is subsequently released during pregnancy – a lagged response. This results in calcium plus lead to enter the blood stream and cross the placenta to expose the foetus with lead. In 1970 in the United States, the average age of a first‐time mother was about 21. In 2008, the average age was 25.1. In this study, it is demonstrated that in California there is a forward lagged relationship between the accumulated emissions of lead from vehicle fuel additives and later autism prevalence trends between the 1990’s and current time period. Regression analysis between a 24 year forward lag of accumulated lead emissions and autism prevalence trends in California are associated strongly (R2=0.95, p=0.00000000127). It is hypothesized that autism in genetically susceptible children may stem from vehicle fuel lead emission exposures of their mothers during childhood and that the release of stored lead during subsequent pregnancy resulted in lead exposure of foetuses during a critical developmental period. It is furthermore hypothesized that the 24 years forward lag between lead exposures has occurred because that is time period is the average length for women to enter childbearing age. To test the hypothesis that lead in mothers bones is associated with autism, it is hypothesized that retrospective case-control studies would show an association between the lead in mother’s bones and autism. Furthermore, it is hypothesized that the forward lagged relationship between accumulated historical vehicle fuel lead emissions (or air lead concentrations) and autism prevalence trends will be similar in cities at the national and international scale. If further epidemiological studies indicate a strong relationship between accumulated vehicle fuel lead emissions (or accumulated air lead concentrations) and lead in mother’s bones and autism rates, then urban areas may require extensive soil intervention to prevent the development of autism in children.

Keywords: autism, Prevalence, lead, gasoline, petrol, bones

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1 Epigenetic and Archeology: A Quest to Re-Read Humanity

Authors: Salma A. Mahmoud


Epigenetic, or alteration in gene expression influenced by extragenetic factors, has emerged as one of the most promising areas that will address some of the gaps in our current knowledge in understanding patterns of human variation. In the last decade, the research investigating epigenetic mechanisms in many fields has flourished and witnessed significant progress. It paved the way for a new era of integrated research especially between anthropology/archeology and life sciences. Skeletal remains are considered the most significant source of information for studying human variations across history, and by utilizing these valuable remains, we can interpret the past events, cultures and populations. In addition to archeological, historical and anthropological importance, studying bones has great implications in other fields such as medicine and science. Bones also can hold within them the secrets of the future as they can act as predictive tools for health, society characteristics and dietary requirements. Bones in their basic forms are composed of cells (osteocytes) that are affected by both genetic and environmental factors, which can only explain a small part of their variability. The primary objective of this project is to examine the epigenetic landscape/signature within bones of archeological remains as a novel marker that could reveal new ways to conceptualize chronological events, gender differences, social status and ecological variations. We attempted here to address discrepancies in common variants such as methylome as well as novel epigenetic regulators such as chromatin remodelers, which to our best knowledge have not yet been investigated by anthropologists/ paleoepigenetists using plethora of techniques (biological, computational, and statistical). Moreover, extracting epigenetic information from bones will highlight the importance of osseous material as a vector to study human beings in several contexts (social, cultural and environmental), and strengthen their essential role as model systems that can be used to investigate and construct various cultural, political and economic events. We also address all steps required to plan and conduct an epigenetic analysis from bone materials (modern and ancient) as well as discussing the key challenges facing researchers aiming to investigate this field. In conclusion, this project will serve as a primer for bioarcheologists/anthropologists and human biologists interested in incorporating epigenetic data into their research programs. Understanding the roles of epigenetic mechanisms in bone structure and function will be very helpful for a better comprehension of their biology and highlighting their essentiality as interdisciplinary vectors and a key material in archeological research.

Keywords: Epigenetics, Chromatin, Archeology, bones, methylome

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