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Full field electroretinogram in autism spectrum disorder

Constable, P. A., Gaigg, S. B., Bowler, D. M. , Jägle, H. & Thompson, D. A. (2016). Full field electroretinogram in autism spectrum disorder. Documenta Ophthalmologica, 132(2), pp. 83-99. doi: 10.1007/s10633-016-9529-y


To explore early findings that individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have reduced scotopic ERG b-wave amplitudes.

Dark adapted (DA) ERGs were acquired to a range of flash strengths, (-4.0 to 2.3 log phot cd.s.m-2), including and extending the ISCEV standard, from two subject groups: (ASD) N=11 and (Control) N=15 for DA and N=14 for light adapted (LA) ERGs who were matched for mean age and range. Naka-Rushton curves were fitted to DA b-wave amplitude growth over the first limb (-4.0 to -1.0 log phot cd.s.m-2). The derived parameters (Vmax, Km and n) were compared between groups. Scotopic 15 Hz flicker ERGs (14.93Hz) were recorded to 10 flash strengths presented in ascending order from -3.0 to 0.5 log Td.s to assess the slow and fast rod pathways respectively. LA ERGs were acquired to a range of flash strengths, (-0.5 to 1.0 log phot cd.s.m-2). Photopic 30 Hz, flicker ERGs, oscillatory potentials (OPs) and the responses to prolonged 120 ms ON- OFF stimuli were also recorded.

For some individuals the DA b-wave amplitudes fell below the control 5th centile of the controls with up to four ASD participants (36%) at the 1.5 log phot cd.s.m-2 flash strength and two (18%) ASD participants at the lower -2 log phot cd.s.m-2 flash strength. However, across the thirteen flash strengths there were no significant group differences for b-wave amplitude’s growth (repeated measures ANOVA p=0.83). Nor were there any significant differences between the groups for the Naka-Rushton parameters (p>0.09). No group differences were observed in the 15Hz scotopic flicker phase or amplitude (p>0.1), DA ERG a- wave amplitude or time to peak (p>26). The DA b-wave time to peak at 0.5 log phot cd.s.m-2 were longer in the ASD group (corrected p=0.04). The single ISCEV LA 0.5 log phot cd.s.m-2 (p<0.001) was lower in the ASD group. Repeated measures ANOVA for the LA series was also significantly (p=0.01) different between groups. No group differences were observed for the LA a-wave, b-wave time to peak or the photopic negative responses (phNR) (p>0.08) to the single flash stimuli although there was a significant interaction between group and flash strength for the b-wave amplitude (corrected p=0.006). The prolonged 120 ms ON-responses were smaller in the ASD group (corrected p=0.003), but the OFF response amplitude (p>0.6) and ON and OFF times to peaks (p>0.4) were similar between groups. The LA OPs showed an earlier bifurcation of OP2 in the younger ASD participants, however no other differences were apparent in the OPs or 30Hz flicker waveforms.

Some ASD individuals show subnormal DA ERG b-wave amplitudes. Under LA conditions the b-wave is reduced across the ASD group along with the ON response of the ERG. These exploratory findings, suggest there is altered cone-ON bipolar signalling in ASD.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: The final publication will be available at Springer
Publisher Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorder, electroretinogram, Naka-Rushton, ON-pathway 15Hz flicker
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Text - Accepted Version
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