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A Deeper Look Into Autism Research as New Avenues Open Up

Thursday, February 21, 2008 by: Barbara L. Minton
Tags: autism, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) Autism may begin when the changes in the brain structure and function of a child result from altered neuronal development, reports a study in the September 7th edition of Brain Research Journal.

Researchers at the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities report a study that finds altered development of neural progenitor cells (immature or undifferentiated cells) after the cells were stimulated with blood sera from autistic children. Although no adequate cellular or animal models were available for study of these neuronal progenitor cells, it was found that neuronal development could be modeled in a culture. Neuronal progenitor cells were stimulated with sera to differentiate into neurons.

Researchers hypothesized that the development of human neuronal progenitor cells induced to differentiate into neurons with sera from children with autism would reflect the altered early neuronal development that leads to autism.

The sera from both the autistic children and the control group were collected from siblings from the same environment who were below the age of 6 years.

The effect of the sera on differentiation of neuronal progenitor cell clusters into neuronal colonies was tested in 72 hour long cultures. The methods used were morphometry (measurement of external form), immunocytochemistry (use of labeled antibodies to detect cellular antigens), and immunoblotting (technique for the specific recognition of very small amounts of protein).

The researchers found that the sera from children with autism significantly reduced neuronal progenitor cell proliferation, but stimulated cell migration. Also observed was the development of small neurons and processes, including length of process and synaptogenesis (formation of the synaptic contact).

These results suggest that the development of the network of processes and synaptogenesis, which are the specific events in the brain during postnatal development of the organism, are altered in children with autism.

About the author

Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.

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