Published last month in Nature Neuroscience (DF-JSM) researchers at Taipei City-based Academia Sinica identified T-box brain 1 (TBR1), an autism causative gene, which might offer new ideas for the treatment of autism spectrum disorders.
Research fellow, Hsueh Yi-ping, led the team at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Molecular Biology, that discovered autism spectrum disorders are linked to abnormal neural development.
Unclear whether the mutations cause the disorder, hundreds of mutations have been identified in autistic patients. TBR1, in previous studies, has been suggested as a hot issue for autism. According to Academia Sinica, it is uncertain how mutations in TBR1 gene may cause autism.
Hsueh’s group demonstrated the loss of a copy of TBR1 gene , results in the disappearance of the posterior part of anterior commissure, which is a white matter structure in the brain that links the two amygdalae in the two hemispheres.
The study also found TBR1 heterozygous mice demonstrated autism-like behaviors, such as reduced communication, reduced social interaction, impaired associated memory and cognitive inflexibility. These behavioral defects can be improved D-cycloserine treatments.
This study suggests that D-cycloserine might be useful for autism therapies and emphasizes the importance of the amygdala in autism.
The team found that treating the TBR1 mutant mice with D-cycloserine can significantly improve the communication, social interactions, and the learning and memory abilities of the mice. Academia Sinica said the study findings will assist in the development of new ways of treating the disorder in human patients.
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