Neurons From People With Autism Grow Differently, Scientists Find

By Lacy Schley | January 11, 2019 4:49 pm
Fluorescent imaging of neuronal cells stained in red and green.

A two-dimensional culture of cortical neurons, stained in red and green, grown from induced pluripotent stem cells created from volunteers’ skin cells. (Credit: Salk Institute)

Researchers announced this week that they may have helped illuminate another small piece of the puzzle that is autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a developmental disorder that can impact social communication and behavior.

In a paper published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, an international team of neuroscientists described a process that used participants’ skin cells to eventually grow neurons in petri dishes. Their observations of the neurons’ growth could help unravel some of the mysteries about early brain development in ASD.

The group, led by Fred Gage at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, collected skin cells from eight volunteers diagnosed with ASD and five non-diagnosed volunteers who acted as the control group. Then, using technology that was announced in 2006, the team rolled back the developmental clock. They converted those skin cells into what are called induced pluripotent stem cells, which have the power to mature into any type of cell in the body. In this case, Gage and his team guided the cells’ development (which played out in petri dishes containing so-called growth culture) using specific chemical factors so that they’d end up as neurons.

As they watched the cells grow, the researchers tracked which genes were expressed — or switched on and used to create things like proteins — and when. They found that cells created from participants with ASD expressed some genes earlier than cells from the control group. Past research has linked those genes with an increased risk of ASD. Additionally, neurons spawned from the cells of participants with ASD sprouted more complex branches and grew faster than control cells. Understanding how those developmental changes affect the brain as a while could lead to a better understanding of the neurology behind ASD.

“Although our work only examined cells in cultures,” says Gage in a press release, “it may help us understand how early changes in gene expression could lead to altered brain development in individuals with ASD. We hope that this work will open up new ways to study neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders.”

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, top posts
  • Uncle Al

    autism spectrum disorder” Rampant Big Pharma-kissing BS, the War on Masculinity. I am a high autist, .Asperger’s syndrome (now Officially disappeared) is just the place to be.

    … You do not know. You cannot imagine. You will never be. Nothing for you, nothing.

    • Kamran Rowshandel

      Propaganda’s a bitch when it benefits nobody isn’t it, Mr. Monotheism?

      • Uncle Al

        Kindly post a list of all 30 crores of gods. How did Hindus keep track prior to flash drives?

      • nik

        What has Monotheism got to do with this subject? Please tell, troll!

  • nik

    Autism is not exactly a disorder, it just means that some peoples responses are different to the general mob.
    In fact it can also mean that those with it are disinterested in the mobs activities, like their obsession with soap opera fantasies and other things designed to distract the mob from the realities of their lives.
    It can also often mean that they have a significantly higher IQ, which is why soaps are just boring to them.
    It seems that in this world, anyone who doesn’t conform to the mobs norm, is considered to have a ”disorder” whereas in fact, it is more frequently an advantage.
    Perhaps that why the mob tries to repress those with it.

    • AR_Libertarian

      Autism IS a disorder. Those on the lower spectrum
      can adjust. But I’ve also had experience with children on the high end
      of the spectrum, and it’s not just that they fall outside the norm, but
      that they would not be able to exist without continued support. They
      will NEVER be able to function independently. And it is heart breaking.

      • nik

        ”Autism” is a term used to cover many so called disorders, or differences, some are debilitating some are the opposite, so ”autism” per-se is not a disorder.
        Specific problems may be.
        A savant may be socially challenged, but when it comes to brain power, may leave the average ”normal” dumb clot in the garbage bin.


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