Autism and Schizophrenia May Develop During Short Period of Time in Infancy

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Baby playing with a DNA strand

Genes connected to the two disorders may only be active for a brief window of time.

The study, while in mice, could provide clues about how the developmental disorders develop. Focusing on a region of the brain known as the subplate, where the first nerve cells develop, researchers at the University of Oxford, King’s College London and Imperial College London found that genes linked to autism and schizophrenia were only active in these regions during early stages of brain development.

Neurons in the subplate region form the foundation for the network of neural connections that eventually crisscross the brain. Studying the way that nerves develop and join this network can reveal where the growth can go wrong and trigger diseases such as autism or schizophrenia.

(MORE: Autism: Why Some Children ‘Bloom’ and Overcome Their Disabilities)

“Building the brain is like a house of cards. The early connections provide the foundation of the adult structure, and disruption of these may be the source of many developmental flaws. Subplate neurons provide a transient scaffold for the developing cerebral cortex and they assist in the development of the extra connectivity,” says study author Zoltan Molnar of the University of Oxford. “If the scaffold is damaged, then the building shall not be fully functional.”

The researchers mapped and detailed the gene activity in the mouse brains throughout their development from 15-day-old embryos into adulthood. The work confirmed that autism and schizophrenia are developmental disorders that may be established early in life, just at the time when the brain is forming its first connections. The genes connected to both diseases were only expressed in the subplate neurons, and not afterward, suggesting that once their work was done, the disease process had begun.

“It has been suspected for a long time that if the development of the cortex is disrupted by genetic abnormalities or environmental stress, such as prematurity, this would have long-lasting adverse effects on brain development and could lead to problems like ADHD or autism … [This study] focuses attention even more firmly on early brain development as a cause of these distressing neuropsychological problems,” said David Edwards, director of the Centre for the Developing Brain at King’s College London, in a statement.

(MORE: Brain Imaging Could Detect Autism Risk in Infants as Young as 6 Months)

Does that mean that the genetic changes can be identified and modified in utero to avoid the diseases? Although that’s not clear, says lead study author Anna Hoerder-Suabedissen of the University of Oxford, “The main implication is, for other researchers, that transient structures of the brain are important to our understanding of the healthy and diseased mature brain. We would hope to validate some of the newly identified subplate specific molecules for use on human postmortem tissue, thereby opening new avenues for understanding the normal and abnormal development of human brains.”

The subplate region is very small in the brains of mice and is much more evolved in human brains. So the researchers are hopeful that their findings offer hope that the genetic links found in the region during early development would be even more distinct and identifiable in human brains.

“I believe that the study … may be a first step toward more findings of such links in the future and opens a possibility to examine more directly the effect of genetic manipulation or exposure to various environmental factors in animal models,” said Pasko Rakic, a professor of neurobiology and neurology at Yale University, one of the first researchers to discover subplate neurons in the 1970s.

The research is published Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

33 comments
JudithD
JudithD

The headline says the changes occur during infancy but the article says they looked at mice starting at 15 days gestation.  I thought that early brain development started before birth.  This would be before childhood vaccines are given.  When do subplate neurons form?

lovetruth
lovetruth

I guess it would be too much to ask that the authors of this study acknowledge that the most obvious - and preventable - environmental stress an infant's brain suffers is from the countless toxins  (including many known neurotoxins) in vaccines. One need not even enter into the debate about whether or not vaccines work. The question is, even if vaccines could be proven to prevent the diseases they claim, is it worth damaging the developing brain and causing countless permanent disorders, including but not limited to autism? Funny, how such an obvious question is avoided.

blastoid3
blastoid3

Lilady,

The venom you spew is way to familiar....hmm you sound an awful lot like the old "Autism Diva" aka Camille Clarke.  Thought PO made you disappear (after his book was published) from the internet as your dialog is too much of an embarrassment as one of his "ghost writers"

lilady
lilady

You are being spammed by the Media Director of Age of Autism and her colleagues.

Ms. Dachel, do try to stay on topic about the genetic links to the onset of autism...there is NO AUTISM EPIDEMIC.


vicktorya
vicktorya

Article underlying assumption seems more about identifying something that can be manipulated in the genetic structure, rather than focusing upon the astronomical rise of autism and its LIKELY causes. As Maurine Meleck mentions, there are STRONG indications that vaccinations are culpable, and other much more likely causes as environmental (all level, including pharmaceutical and electromagnetic) toxins. Agreed, exactly, "move on and get off the ridiculous genetic theories". Manipulating the gene pool IS an option, but it is most likely a drastic 'industrial' solution (for more money-making patented processes or genes), when much more simpler options of 'removing likely causes' would be of immediate benefit. The money-making and power brokering on life processes is evident here, and not being ignored.

MaurineMeleck
MaurineMeleck

There is a major problem with this theory, however.  There is NO such thing as a genetic epidemic.  Everyone I know(and there are hundreds, thousands) has a perfectly normal and healthy child meeting all the right stages of development and then regressed following their vaccinations.  Maybe this early nerve development theory will pacify the AAP and the CDC, but it will never be a hit with the majority of the autism community.  I say, "Move on and get off the ridiculous genetic theories."  Been doing that for 2 decades and all we see are 100 dreds of thousands more children diagnosed with autism.

Maurine Meleck, SC

grandmother to 2 vaccine injured boys who suffered encephalophy following their vaccinations and regressed.

AnneDachel1
AnneDachel1

What’s missing here is any acknowledgement that autism has reached epidemic levels among children worldwide.A once rare disorder is now so common that everyone knows someone with an autistic child and officials can’t tell us why.The current rate of one in 88 comes from studies of eight year olds, not eighty year olds.No one has ever shown us comparable rate among adults, especially adults with classic autism whose symptoms can’t be denied.Something is dramatically affecting the health of our children and experts seem at a loss to explain it.Genes alone couldn’t possibly be behind what’s happening to our children since there’s never been a genetic epidemic in human history.

Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

AnneDachel1
AnneDachel1

Reseracher Pasko Rakic: ‘I believe that the study … may be a first step toward more findings of such links in the future and opens a possibility to examine more directly the effect of genetic manipulation or exposure to various environmental factors in animal models,’

Most of this piece seems to focus on the “genetic links” to autism as seen in mice. Rakic brings up “”exposure to various environmental factors” at the end of the story, without giving us any details on what they might be.Many parents say that the trigger for their child was the vaccine schedule.They took children that were born healthy and were developing normally in for routine vaccinations and suddenly those children changed.They got sick, lost learned skills and regressed into autism.Doctors can’t explain this.They do however have lots of studies, all tied to the vaccine industry, showing no link between vaccines and autism.

Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

AnneDachel1
AnneDachel1

Officially, autism has no known cause or cure. There nothing a mainstream doctor can tell a new mother so that her healthy baby doesn’t also end up on the autism spectrum by age two.

Every week there are new studies linking autism to various lifestyle choices: older moms, older dads, lack of folic acid/vitamin D during pregnancy, living too close to a freeway, having siblings too close together, taking anti-depressants while pregnant along with moms who drink, moms who smoke, exposure to toxic chemicals in carpeting and in plastic products, obese moms---the list is endless.

How long will there be only guesses about autism?How bad do the numbers have to get?

Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

AnneDachel1
AnneDachel1

If researchers are really interested in “environmental factors” they could turn their attention to the ever-expanding vaccine schedule.

This link shows the dramatic increase in the number of vaccines on the childhood schedule from 1983 to 2012. http://www.drmomma.org/2011/01/cdc-mandatory-vaccine-schedule-1983-vs.html

There has never been a study done on the cumulative effects of so many vaccines so soon on the health of a child.

Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

AnneDachel1
AnneDachel1

HDNet TV exposed the fact that while health officials continue to tell us studies show no link, the federal government has paid out millions of dollars for compensation for vaccine injuries that included autism. Seeing these children who were born healthy and were suddenly and dramatically affected by their vaccinations should give us all pause.

http://www.omsj.org/corruption/vaccines-autism-mixed-signals

http://www.ebcala.org/areas-of-law/vaccine-law/transcript-of-vaccines-autism-mixed-signals

Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

WandaFry
WandaFry

Google endocrine disruptors. TEDX site is a good resource.