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The immune system has been suggested to be associated with neuropsychiatric disorders; for example, elevated levels of cytokines and the inflammation-related transcription factor nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-κB) have been reported in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The aim of this study was to investigate possible associations between autistic-like traits (ALTs) and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in NFKB1 (encoding a subunit of the NF-κB protein complex) and NF-κB inhibitor-like protein 1 (NFKBIL1).
The study was conducted in a cohort from the general population: The Child and Adolescent Twin Study in Sweden (CATSS, n = 12 319, 9–12 years old). The subjects were assessed by the Autism-Tics, ADHD, and Other Comorbidities Inventory. Five SNPs within the two genes were genotyped (NFKBIL1: rs2857605, rs2239707, rs2230365 and rs2071592; NFKB1: rs4648022).
We found significant associations for two SNPs in NFKBIL1: rs2239707 showed a significant distribution of genotype frequencies in the case-control analysis both for all individuals combined and in boys only, and rs2230365 was significantly associated with the ALTs-module language impairment in boys only. Furthermore, we found nominal association in the case-control study for rs2230365, replicating earlier association between this SNP and ASD in an independent genome-wide association study.
The shown associations between polymorphisms in NFKBIL1 and ALTs are supporting an influence of the immune system on neuropsychiatric symptoms.
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