Brain scan shows the difference between adults with autism

Maureen Salomon
Health Day Reporter

Thursday, November 29 (HealthDay News)-Brain scans performed in a group of men with autism show clear differences in both the volume of specific areas and the activity of cells that indicate a possible immune response. Yes, two new studies suggest.

British and Japanese scientists used MRI and PET (positron emission tomography) scans to examine brain-based anatomical and cellular changes in people with autism. However, while this inequality gives a deeper glimpse of little-understood developmental disorders, it raises more questions about their causes and treatments and can only be answered by further research.

“There is very strong evidence that the immune system appears to be involved in autism, but I don’t know what its role is,” said Autism Speaks, who was not involved in either study. Said Geraldine Dawson, Chief Scientific Officer. .. “More research is urgently needed to understand the causes of autism and more effective treatments. Autism is really a public health crisis. Helping families To do this, we need to address this by significantly increasing the amount of research we carry out. Find the answer. “

The study was published online in this week’s issue of the journal Archive of general psychiatry.

Autism, which affects one in 88 children in the United States, is characterized by widespread problems in social interaction and communication, as well as repetitive and restricted behavioral patterns and interests.

A Japanese study used PET scans to examine the brains of 20 men with autism to focus on so-called microglia. These are the cells that perform immune function when the brain is exposed to “injuries” such as trauma, infections, and blood clots. PET images showed excessive activation of microglia in multiple brain regions among people with autism when compared to a group of people without disabilities.

“This really raises the question of what the role of these anomalies is,” said Dawson, a professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Is this something that can help us explain the cause of autism? Is it a reaction to autism or is it a brain reaction to developing in an abnormal way? “

“There is no answer to these questions, but they are currently appearing in multiple studies, suggesting that understanding the role of the immune system in autism may be a way to understand its treatment. “She added.

A UK study used MRI on a matching set of 84 men with autism and healthy participants. It has been suggested that people with autism have significant differences in cortical volume. These differences may be related to two factors: cortical thickness and surface area. Overall, participants with autism had a thicker cortex within the frontal lobe region of the brain and a reduced surface area of ​​other regions of the brain.

Research author Christine Ecker, a lecturer in neuroimaging at King’s College London, discussed such brain differences.

“We also know that about 50% of people with autism have an abnormally enlarged brain, especially in early childhood. This is because people with autism have atypical development of brain growth. It suggests that it has an orbit, “Ecker said. “”[Anatomical brain differences in these areas] Although highly correlated with the severity of autistic symptoms, it is necessary to establish how certain differences in surface area and cortical thickness affect the broader symptoms and characteristics of autism. “

Dawson, who wrote the editorial that accompanies the study, said that new studies on autism have exploded in the last decade, but she still feels that federal agencies are lacking funding for the study. ing.

“It’s amazing not only the number of new scientists who are beginning to devote their careers to autism research, but also the quality of the scientists,” Dawson said. “But despite the fact that we are excited and encouraged by the growing number of publications, we still feel that progress is too slow.”

Copyright © 2012 Health Day. all rights reserved.

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Source: Christine Ecker, Ph.D. , Lecturer, Neuroimaging, King’s College London; Dr. Geraldine Dawson, Chief Science Officer at Autism Speaks, Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. November 26, 2012, Archive of general psychiatry online

Brain scan shows the difference between adults with autism

Source link Brain scan shows the difference between adults with autism

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