Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Columbia Researcher Identifies Cellular Defect That May Contribute To Autism

Date:
January 31, 2005
Source:
Columbia University College Of Physicians And Surgeons
Summary:
The causes of autism have long remained a mystery, but new research from Columbia University Medical Center has identified, for the first time, how a cellular defect may be involved in the often crippling neurological disorder.

NEW YORK, NY, January 27 – The causes of autism have long remained a mystery, but new research from Columbia University Medical Center has identified, for the first time, how a cellular defect may be involved in the often crippling neurological disorder.

The research, which is published in today's issue of Science, examines how a defect in neuroligin genes may contribute to autism. Neuroligins are components of synapses, which connect individual neurons in the brain. The researchers found that the loss of neuroligins perturbs the formation of neuronal connections and results in an imbalance of neuronal function. This imbalance provides an explanation for the neurodevelopmental defects in autistic children.

"Understanding the cellular defects that may underlie autism-spectrum disorders represents an important step towards the goal of providing therapies," said Peter Scheiffele, Ph.D., assistant professor of physiology and cellular biophysics at Columbia University Medical Center, and principal investigator on the study.

A defect in the neuroligin genes had previously been observed in autistic patients, but its functional significance was not yet understood. Scheiffele's study showed that in rat neurons without any neuroligin, connections between neurons are altered in a way that is strikingly similar to those found in autistic children.

Each neuron in the brain receives many different inputs – some are excitatory and signal the neuron to fire, and some are inhibitory and signal the neuron to stop firing. Scheiffele's research team found that neuroligin genes are responsible for regulating the balance between excitatory and inhibitory synaptic function. A defect in neuroligin leads to a selective loss in inhibitory function and thereby impairs the fine-tuning of neuronal connectivity, a neurological problem that is understood to play a role in autism.

"There is much we still don't know about how neurons connect to each other, but our findings have provided unique insights into what may be going wrong on a cellular level in autistic patients," said Dr. Scheiffele.

###

Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, pre-clinical and clinical research, medical education, and health care. The medical center trains future leaders in health care and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, nurses, dentists, and other health professionals at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, the School of Dental & Oral Surgery, the School of Nursing, the Mailman School of Public Health, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. With a strong history of some of the most important advances and discoveries in health care, its researchers are leading the development of novel therapies and advances to address a wide range of health conditions.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Columbia University College Of Physicians And Surgeons. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Columbia University College Of Physicians And Surgeons. "Columbia Researcher Identifies Cellular Defect That May Contribute To Autism." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 January 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050128220808.htm>.
Columbia University College Of Physicians And Surgeons. (2005, January 31). Columbia Researcher Identifies Cellular Defect That May Contribute To Autism. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050128220808.htm
Columbia University College Of Physicians And Surgeons. "Columbia Researcher Identifies Cellular Defect That May Contribute To Autism." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050128220808.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins