Children and Adolescents with Autism have Surplus Synapses in Brain

Children and Adolescents with Autism have Surplus Synapses in Brain

A new study has discovered that children and adolescents with autism have surplus synapses in brain. People with autism have extra synapses in the brain and this excess was due to a slowdown in a normal brain "pruning" process during development, the researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) have found. Since synapses are the points where neurons join and communicate with each other, surplus synapses may have important effect on how the brain functions.

"This is an important finding that could lead to a novel and much-needed therapeutic strategy for autism", said Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, Lawrence C. Kolb Professor and Chair of Psychiatry at CUMC and director of New York State Psychiatric Institute, who was not involved in the study, in the press release.

Even if the drug rapamycin has side effects that might prevent its use in people with autism, a drug that restores usual synaptic pruning can improve autistic-like behaviors in mice even when the drug is given after the behaviors have appeared, researchers found.

By managing rapamycin, a drug that inhibits mTOR, the researchers could restore normal autophagy and synaptic pruning and reverse autistic-like behaviors in the mice. The drug was also effective when mice were managed after the behaviors developed. Recommending such approach might be used for the treatment of patients even if their disorder has been identified.

Alan Packer, PhD, senior scientist at the Simons Foundation, said that the present view was that that autism was heterogeneous with possibility of hundreds of genes that could give but that are a very large spectrum. So, now aim would be to understand that how those hundred of genes grouped into a smaller number of pathways that would provide them better clues for treatments.


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