Finally a study revealed the relation between a developmental disorder of neural stem cells and the subsequent onset of autism. A study conducted by the researchers at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research reveals that mutations in neural stem cell development may be linked to autism. The study conducted on the mice shows the result.

To describe, the study showed that mice, lacking the myocyte enhancer factor 2C (MEF2C) protein in neural stem cells had smaller brains, fewer nerve cells and showed behaviors similar to those seen in humans with a form of autism known as Rett Syndrome. In a statement, Dr. Lipton, a clinical neurologist and lead researcher of the study, says,

“These results give us a good hint of how to look at Rett Syndrome and potentially other forms of autism in humans. Having identified a mutation that causes this defect, we can track what happens. Perhaps we can correct it in a mouse, and if so, eventually correct it in humans.”

The researchers also observed a faulty distribution of neurons, accompanied by severe developmental problems, when they deleted MEF2C from neural stem cells in the animals. The research team observed that MEF2C turns on specific genes, which drive stem cells to become nerve cells.

The study also reveals that adult mice lacking MEF2C in their brains displayed abnormal anxiety-like behaviors, decreased cognitive function, and marked paw clasping, a behavior which may be analogous to hand wringing, a notable feature in humans with Rett syndrome.

To conclude, autism is a brain development disorder that impairs social interaction and communication, and causes restricted and repetitive behavior, all starting before a child is three years old. This set of signs distinguishes autism from milder autism spectrum disorders (ASD) such as Asperger syndrome.

Source: News Track India