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Research shows how PCBs promote dendrite growth, may increase autism risk
Date:4/25/2012

errant brain architecture, and that dendrite production was normal when that cellular pathway was blocked.

"We are the first to show that non-dioxin-like PCBs alter how the developing brain gets wired by hijacking the calcium signaling pathway and greatly expanding dendrite growth," said Lein.

The experiments also helped identify for the first time the specific trigger for this cellular chain of events as the ryanodine receptor (RyR) calcium channel. Pessah, a recognized leader in calcium-channel dysfunction and neurodevelopment, previously showed that RyR is selectively activated by non-dioxin-like PCBs. The new studies prove that RyR is a necessary component in the pathway that controls dendritic growth.

"These same calcium pathways are implicated in some forms of autism and, while environmental exposures alone do not cause autism, these new findings provide good evidence that PCBs could add to autism risk in genetically predisposed children," said Pessah. "Understanding the fundamental mechanisms by which PCBs alter neural networks sets the stage for research on environmental contaminants that are structurally related to PCBs, including flame retardants, and their risks to susceptible populations."


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Contact: Karen Finney
karen.finney@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-9064
University of California - Davis Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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