Lack of Neural Protein May be Linked to Autism

infant brain autism

A recently published study from Duke University holds interesting implications about the root of autism.

As of right now, the causes of autism are hotly debated. As the diagnoses increase at an abnormally high rate, parents are wondering if there are any preventative steps they can take to minimize autism risk. An in-depth understanding of the genetics behind ASD may unlock the answer.

Many theories have been discussed, and researchers often point towards environmental factors. However, in this recent study, researchers at Duke believe that a disruption in infants’ brain development may be the primary source of neurocognitive deficiencies seen in persons with ASD.

In this study, researchers focused on the role that protrusions on the synapses may have on brain development. Previously, professionals believed that all individuals, whether typically or abnormally developing, began with single synapses. However, in studying mice that miss the code for developing a protein called hevin, they have realized that these subjects actually receive multiple inputs via the synapse rather than just one. As their brains continue to mature, these neurons prune themselves so that they only receive one of these inputs. In depleting these inputs, researchers believe that the coding for hevin may be lost.

This study is significant because a deficiency in hevin proteins (seen in the rats) has also been found in individuals with autism. Some researchers believe that this molecular disturbance may be one of the contributing factors to the development of autism.

If the research at Duke proves to be consistent, researchers may be one step closer to identifying how discrepancies in hevin productions may contribute to the development of autism during infancy. Of course, this is a far cry from developing a concrete causal link, but Duke’s investigation has provided ample fodder for more detailed research that could lead to a better understanding of autism’s development.

Sara Power, Fordham University

This entry was posted in Autism Action Alerts, Autism America, Autism Awareness, Autism Causes, Autism Diagnosis, Autism Education, Autism News and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>