I don't know if it is related at all, but I remember being particularly interested in this study, up to speaking with the author of the study. It just disappeared, for all I know.
A Comparative Study Evaluating the Dose-Responsiveness Effects of methylmercury and Thimerosal on Select Nervous, Immune and Enzyme Parameters
Deborah Keil, Ph. D. Medical Univeristy of South Carolina
Infantile autism (IA) is a neurodevelopmental syndrome found in 1-5 cases of every 10,000 children with boys acquiring this syndrome 3-5 times more than girls. The spectrum of disorders of autism includes a range of impaired development of language and communication, unusual behaviors, and mental retardation. A diversity of pathophysiological effects also exist to include hyperserotoninemia, decreased T-cell proliferative function and activation, increased soluble IL-2 levels in serum, decreased CD8+ cells, decreased NK cells, development of anti-brain autoantibodies, decreased cerebellum volume and Purkinje cell number. Several studies indicate that the etiology of IA is multi-factorial and includes exposure to environmental chemicals. In particular, mercury exposure during infant and child development has been implicated in IA, especially in the case of vaccines containing mercury. Although mercury exposure from vaccines has been implicated in autism, this association has been criticized due to a lack of supportive experimental dose-response data. Thus, the proposed study will assess the possible role of methylmercury (MeHg) and thimerosal (TH) in contributing to the pathophysiology of IA using a mouse model to assess dose-responsive effects in cognitive and physiological parameters that encompass nervous, immune and enzyme pathways. This comparative approach will permit increased understanding of deficits due to MeHg or TH after acute exposure during early developmental stages and facilitate understanding of etiological causes of autism or other neurodevelopmental diseases. Furthermore, this study will also improve our understanding of the health effects attributed to different forms of mercury and contribute to the development of toxicological risk assessment models for detecting environmental contaminants that would adversely impact children's health.
Presentation abstracts from the study
Smythe J, Keil DE, EuDaly J, Griffin WC, and Peden-Adams MM. Assessment of postnatal exposure to thimerosal or methylmercy using a Morris water maze procedure in B6C3F1 mice. The Toxicologist. March, 2004 78(1-S).
Peden-Adams MM, EuDaly J, Heeseman L, Smythe J and Keil DE. Postnatal exposure to thimerosal alters immunological function in adult mice. The Toxicologist. March, 2004 78(1-S).
Peden-Adams MM, Adams C, Meyers K. EuDaly A, Smythe J, EuDaly J, and Keil DE. Varied exposure regimes to methyl mercury (MeHg) during postnatal development leads to different immune responses. The Toxicologist. March 2003 72(S-1): 376.