Scientists identify genetic mechanisms involved in abnormal early brain development in young autism patients

Scientists identify genetic mechanisms involved in abnormal early brain development in young autism patients
Published: 23 March 2012 (1027 Views)
US scientists have identified in young autism patients genetic mechanisms involved in abnormal early brain development and overgrowth that occurs in the disorder, according to a study published Thursday in the online journal of PLoS Genetics.

The study uncovered differences in gene expression between brain tissue from young (two to 14 years old) and adult individuals with autism syndrome disorder, providing important clues why brain growth and development is abnormal in this disorder.

The findings suggest novel genetic and molecular targets that could lead to discoveries of new prevention strategies and treatment for the disorder.

In the study, the researchers showed that genetic mechanisms that normally regulate the number of cortical neurons in young autism patients are abnormal.

In addition, they discovered a turning down of the genetic mechanisms responsible for detecting DNA defects and correcting or removing affected cells during periods of rapid prenatal development.

Autism is a highly heritable neurodevelopmental disorder, yet the genetic underpinnings in the brain at young ages have remained largely unknown.

Until now, few studies have been able to investigate whole-genome gene expression and genotype variation in the brains of young patients with autism, especially in regions such as the prefrontal cortex that display the greatest growth abnormality. 

- Xinhua

Tags: Brain, autism,
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