Could autism be an autoimmune disorder?


Interesting article, what are your thoughts???

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When a woman is pregnant, the baby is protected by the womb as well as the placental barrier. As an additional level of protection, immune proteins from the mother will cross over the placental barrier to shield the baby from foreign bacteria and infections.

Sometimes, however these immune proteins do their job a little too much and begin to not only attack bacteria and viruses, but also the  brain tissue in the unborn baby’s head, according to a study published in Translational Psychiatry in 2013. (1)

A second study also found that the immune system proteins in attacking the brain can cause some of the symptoms of autism; most commonly the inability to communicate as well as repetitive behaviors.

Researchers believe that they have identified a type of Autism that can account for over 20% of children on the spectrum. They’re calling it MAR, or “Maternal Antibody Related”. (2)

Right now, Pediatric Bioscience is working with researchers to possibly release a test that will be able to detect whether or not the mother has the antibodies. If she does, it would be almost certain that the child will be born with Autism. If she does not have the antibodies, the child could still have autism, but it would be for other reasons.

If this is found to be accurate, which is seems to be at this point, we could be one step closer to finding out more about the cause of autism.

A cause is one step closer to a cure.

Sources:
(1) (2) http://www.nature.com/tp/journal/v3/n7/full/tp201347a.html

Could Epigenetics be the solution to Autism?


I have seen something about Epigenetics twice in one day, I am sharing this in the hopes that it might help someone improve their diagnosis….  

DNA is like an instruction manual in creating all parts of our body. It sounds pretty simple, the body just follows these instructions and we grow and develop based on DNA, right? Only halfway right.

The DNA portion of the markup is unchangeable. It’s a firm plan. The DNA in our bodies are wrapped around Histones, a protein. Attached to the histone and DNA are other chemical tags called Epigenomes. While DNA itself isn’t able to be changed or modified, epigenomes are reactive based on external factors like diet, stress, and environmental factors. The epigenome adjusts genes based on what we are subjected to around us.(1)

It is widely believed that Autism Spectrum Disorders are genetic. However, there is also reason to believe that some of the factors of how the disorder affects someone can be traced to epigenomes, and how environmental elements affect them.  There are several chromosomes that have been traced to cases of Autism. (2)

Studies suggest that there is a connection between Autism / ASD and the chromosomes 15Q, 7Q, and X.

Duplications of chromosome 15Q (11-13) are commonly recurrent cytogenetic aberration associated with ASD. This occurs in 5% of patients with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The 15Q (11-13) chromosome is responsible for normal neurodevelopment.  The duplication of this chromosome is dependent on which parent the allele is derived from. Duplications in the maternal copy of this chromosome have been found to result in more cases of Autism. Overexpression of maternal genes is believed to be a cause of Autism. (2)

With chromosome 7, it has been found that changes in the number or structure of chromosome 7 (We normally have 2 copies of this chromosome), can causes delayed growth, mental disorders, and delayed speech. (3)

In the case of the x-chromosome, it’s important to note that there is a distinctive gender bias when it comes to Autism. There are 4 times as many males affected by Autism/ASD than there are females.

Based on the results of a study on females with Turner syndrome, a hypothesis involving epigenetic mechanisms was proposed to help describe the gender bias of ASD. Turner syndrome patients have only one X chromosome which can be either maternal or paternal in origin. When 80 females with monosomy X were tested for measures of social cognition, the patients with a paternally derived X chromosome performed better than those with a maternally derived X chromosome. Males have only one X chromosome, derived from their mother. If a gene on the paternal X chromosome confers improved social skills, males are deficient in the gene. This could explain why males are more likely to be diagnosed with ASD. (4)

Sources:
(1) http://hmg.oxfordjournals.org/content/15/suppl_2/R138.full
(2) Schroer R.J., Phelan M.C., Michaelis R.C., Crawford E.C., Skinner S.A., Cuccaro M., Simensen R.J., Bishop J.,  Skinner C.,  Fender D., et al. Autism and maternally derived aberrations of chromosome 15q. Am. J. Med. Genet. 1998;76:327-336.
(3) Schanen N. C. (2006). “Epigenetics of autism spectrum disorders”. Human Molecular Genetics 15: R138–R150.
(4) Skuse, D.H., James, R.S., Bishop, D.V., Coppin, B., Dalton, P., Aamodt-Leeper, G., Bacarese-Hamilton, M., Creswell, C., McGurk, R. and Jacobs, P.A. (1997). “Evidence from Turner’s syndrome of an imprinted X-linked locus affecting cognitive function”. Nature 387 (6634): 705–708.