Research shows important cause of autism

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Autism is a condition that affects how a person communicates and behaves. It’s something that some individuals are born with. More boys than girls have autism, and signs usually start showing up when kids are very young. In fact, about 1 in every 59 kids has autism.

Our brains are complex and made up of many small parts called brain cells. These cells communicate with each other through connections known as synapses. This communication is essential for us to think, learn, and act.

When babies are born, their brain cells start making a lot of these connections, which is a good thing because it means better communication between the cells.

But what if something goes wrong with this process? Well, researchers believe it could lead to conditions like autism.

A group of scientists from Northwestern University and other institutions have been exploring this idea. They were particularly interested in a gene called ANK3 and a protein it produces known as ankyrin-G.

Before this study, scientists knew that changes in the ANK3 gene were connected to brain conditions, including autism. But the exact role of this gene and its protein in the brain wasn’t clear.

The researchers made a significant finding. They discovered that ankyrin-G plays a vital role in the development of dendrites, which are like little arms that brain cells use to reach out and connect with other cells.

These connections are what form synapses. However, ankyrin-G can’t do its job alone. It needs help from a partner, an enzyme named Usp9X.

Usp9X is like a bodyguard for ankyrin-G, ensuring it remains stable so it can help brain cells form these important connections.

When everything works as it should, a baby’s brain develops a rich network of connections, allowing for smooth communication between brain cells.

However, the researchers found a potential problem. If Usp9X doesn’t work correctly, ankyrin-G levels can decrease. This drop might happen right after a baby is born, potentially leading to issues in the brain.

To see what happens when Usp9X isn’t working right, the scientists looked at mice with the same issue. These mice had problems with their neurons (another word for brain cells) and showed different behaviors compared to typical mice.

The scientists think these problems were due to the mice having fewer synapses, which meant worse communication between their brain cells.

The conclusion from this study is that problems with the Usp9X gene might be one of the causes of autism.

This research is a big step in understanding autism better. However, it’s just the beginning, and more research is needed to fully understand and confirm these findings.

The results of this study were shared by Peter Penzes and his team in the Neuron journal. It’s an exciting development for everyone interested in learning more about autism and how our brains work.

If you care about autism, please read studies about a new cause of autism, and cats may help decrease anxiety for kids with autism.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about vitamin D that may hold the clue to more autism, and results showing strange eating habits may signal autism.

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