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Lipid levels during prenatal brain development impact autism: York U study
Date:4/8/2014

In a groundbreaking York University study, researchers have found that abnormal levels of lipid molecules in the brain can affect the interaction between two key neural pathways in early prenatal brain development, which can trigger autism. And, environmental causes such as exposure to chemicals in some cosmetics and common over-the-counter medication can affect the levels of these lipids, according to the researchers.

"We have found that the abnormal level of a lipid molecule called Prostaglandin E2 in the brain can affect the function of Wnt proteins. It is important because this can change the course of early embryonic development," explains Professor Dorota Crawford in the Faculty of Health and a member of the York Autism Alliance Research Group.

This is the first time research shows evidence for cross-talk between PGE2 and Wnt signalling in neuronal stem cells, according to the peer reviewed study published at Cell Communication and Signaling.

Lead researcher and York U doctoral student Christine Wong adds, "Using real-time imaging microscopy, we determined that higher levels of PGE2 can change Wnt-dependent behaviour of neural stem cells by increasing cell migration or proliferation. As a result, this could affect how the brain is organized and wired. Moreover, we found that an elevated level of PGE2 can increase expression of Wnt-regulated genes Ctnnb1, Ptgs2, Ccnd1, and Mmp9. "Interestingly, all these genes have been previously implicated in various autism studies."

Autism is considered to be the primary disorder of brain development with symptoms ranging from mild to severe and including repetitive behaviour, deficits in social interaction, and impaired language. It is four times more prevalent in boys than in girls and the incidence continues to rise. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data from 2010 est
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Contact: Gloria Suhasini
suhasini@yorku.ca
416-736-2100 x22094
York University
Source:Eurekalert

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