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Abnormal lipid levels during brain development ups autism risk

Wednesday, 9 April 2014 - 10:35am IST | Agency: ANI

Researchers have found that abnormal levels of lipid molecules in the brain could affect the interaction between two key neural pathways in early prenatal brain development, which can trigger autism.

According to the researchers, environmental causes such as exposure to chemicals in some cosmetics and common over-the-counter medication can affect the levels of these lipids.

Professor Dorota Crawford in the Faculty of Health and a member of the York Autism Alliance Research Group said that they 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.

Lead researcher and York U doctoral student Christine Wong adds using real-time imaging microscopy, they determined that higher levels of PGE2 can change Wnt-dependent behaviour of neural stem cells by increasing cell migration or proliferation.

Wong said that 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.

The study has been published at journal Cell Communication and Signaling.


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