Unraveling the autism mystery: the role of nitric oxide

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What is Autism?

Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a condition that can affect how a person interacts with others, how they communicate, and how they behave.

It’s called a “spectrum” disorder because it can show up in different ways and different levels of intensity in different people. Around 1 out of every 44 kids around the world has ASD.

Autism and Genes

Scientists have found out that certain changes in our genes can lead to ASD. Genes are like instructions in our body that decide things like our eye color, hair color, and much more.

Two genes named SHANK3 and CNTNAP2 are found to be highly connected to ASD. If these genes have certain changes or mistakes in them, the chances of having ASD increase.

But finding the exact problem that causes ASD inside our bodies has been a tough task for scientists.

Nitric Oxide: A Key Player

Recently, a team of scientists from two universities in Israel made an interesting discovery.

They found a connection between ASD and a substance called nitric oxide, often shortened to NO. Nitric oxide is a very important molecule in our body.

It helps in many different tasks like keeping our cells alive, helping our nerves grow and function, and even controlling how our brain cells talk to each other.

The scientists noticed that when they studied mice that had been changed to show ASD symptoms, these mice had more nitric oxide in their brains than normal mice.

This was their first clue that nitric oxide might have a big role to play in ASD.

Testing the Theory

The scientists decided to test this idea more thoroughly. They gave some mice a substance that would make their bodies produce more nitric oxide.

After ten days, these mice showed changes in their brain that were similar to the changes seen in mice with ASD.

But what would happen if they reduced the amount of nitric oxide in ASD mice? The scientists tried this out too.

They gave the ASD mice a different substance that would lower the amount of nitric oxide in their bodies. They saw that this treatment seemed to reverse some of the brain changes seen in ASD.

Linking Behavior and Nitric Oxide

But the scientists didn’t stop there. They wanted to see if changes in nitric oxide would affect how the mice behaved. So they set up a special test.

They showed the mice a new object and an old, familiar object. Normal mice liked exploring the new object more, but the ASD mice didn’t. They showed no preference between the new and old object.

But what happened when the ASD mice were treated to reduce nitric oxide? The scientists found that these mice began to show more interest in the new object, just like the normal mice did!

What Does This All Mean?

This study has shown that nitric oxide might be a very important part of the ASD puzzle.

By finding a link between nitric oxide and ASD, scientists are now one step closer to understanding this condition better.

And not just that, this study gives us hope for the future. If we can control the amount of nitric oxide in our body, we might be able to help people with ASD.

We could potentially reverse some of the changes in the brain that ASD causes.

Remember, while these experiments have been done on mice, scientists are hopeful that similar results could be found in humans as well.

In the end, while we don’t have all the answers yet, this study has brought us one step closer to understanding ASD. And who knows?

In the future, we might even be able to find a treatment for it. But for now, the work continues, and every little discovery brings us closer to the bigger picture.

Keep Learning and Exploring

This is a complex topic, but we’re learning more about it every day. Science is all about asking questions, discovering new things, and solving problems.

So, if you’re interested in this, don’t stop asking questions. Who knows, maybe one day, you could be part of the team that solves the mystery of ASD!

If you care about autism, please read studies about a new cause of autism, and vitamin D could help lower the risk of autoimmune diseases.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about rare blood clots after COVID-19 vaccination, and gut health plays a role in autism.

The study was published in Advanced Science.

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