A missed opportunity to research the oxytocin receptor gene and autism

This 2013 study:

“Examined whether genetic variants of the OXTR [oxytocin receptor] affect face recognition memory in families with an autistic child.

We investigated whether common polymorphisms in the genes encoding the oxytocin and vasopressin 1a receptors influence social memory for faces.”

I feel that the researchers missed an opportunity to improve their assessment of the autism-related genetic contribution to the study’s findings by separating the degree of environmental influence on the oxytocin receptor gene expression, as did the How epigenetic DNA methylation of the oxytocin receptor gene affects the perception of anger and fear study.

An assessment of epigenetic DNA methylation of the oxytocin receptor gene may have been even more compelling because the researchers genetically sampled one non-autistic sibling in each of the autistic children’s families. I hope the study’s samples are still available, because they may offer the possibility of evaluating the contribution of the autistic children’s historical environment with potential confirmation from their siblings.

Both studies gave their subjects similar facial emotion recognition tests, with the current one deriving from findings about autism, and the second from findings about the amygdala. The studies also had common references, such as a 2010 study, A common allele in the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) impacts prosocial temperament and human hypothalamic-limbic structure and function.

http://www.pnas.org/content/111/5/1987.full “Common polymorphism in the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) is associated with human social recognition skills”

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