Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Complex Gene Interactions Account For Autism Risk

Date:
August 3, 2005
Source:
Duke University Medical Center
Summary:
Using a novel analysis of the interactions among related genes, Duke University Medical Center researchers have uncovered some of the first evidence that complex genetic interactions account for autism risk.

Since one of the primary functions of GABA is to inhibit nerve cells from firing, it plays a key role in telling the body to "slow down.". The GABA system therefore acts as a sort of information filter, preventing the brain from becoming over-stimulated, the researchers explained.

"Impairing the GABA system could overwhelm the brain with sensory information, leading to both the behavior and the pattern of cell damage that emerges in autism," said John Hussman, Ph.D., a study co-author and president of The Hussman Foundation, one of the groups that funded the study.

The researchers examined 14 genes that encode portions of the GABA receptor in 470 Caucasian families. Of those families, 266 included more than one person with autism and 204 included one autistic individual. The team tested for associations between particular gene variants and the disease. They also applied sophisticated statistical methods designed to zero in on the effects of particular gene combinations.

The researchers found that one of the GABA receptor genes, GABRA4, is involved in the origin of autism. Moreover, they report, GABRA4 appears to increase autism risk through its interaction with a second GABA gene, GABRB1.

"This is a key finding for our understanding of the complexity of interactions that underlie autism," Pericak-Vance said. "We can now apply the analytical approach to other genes that may play a role in the disease." Such findings may ultimately yield a method to screen for individuals at high risk for the disease, she added.

"The new findings offer important new information for families affected by autism about the complexity of the disease," said clinical psychologist Michael Cuccaro, Ph.D., a study co-author also of the Duke Center for Human Genetics.

Furthermore, he added, existing medications already target the GABA system, including diazepam (Valiumฎ) and some anti-epileptic drugs. "As we begin to understand the GABA system as it relates to the neurological underpinnings of autism, we may advance toward new therapies."

Collaborators on the study include D.Q. Ma, P.L. Whithead, M.M. Menold, E.R. Martin, A.E. Ashley-Koch, G.R. DeLong and J.R. Gilbert, all of Duke; H. Mei of North Carolina State University; M.D. Ritchie of Vanderbilt University; and H.H. Wright, Ruth Abramson of University of South Carolina.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Duke University Medical Center. "Complex Gene Interactions Account For Autism Risk." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 August 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050803063300.htm>.
Duke University Medical Center. (2005, August 3). Complex Gene Interactions Account For Autism Risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050803063300.htm
Duke University Medical Center. "Complex Gene Interactions Account For Autism Risk." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050803063300.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — A recent report claims personality can change over time as we age, and usually that means becoming nicer and more emotionally stable. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) — In the U.S., there are more than 11 million couples trying to conceive at any given time. From helping celebrity moms like Bethanny Frankel to ordinary soon-to-be-moms, TV personality and parenting expert, Rosie Pope, gives you the inside scoop on mastering motherhood. London-born entrepreneur Pope is the creative force behind Rosie Pope Maternity and MomPrep. She explains why being an entrepreneur offers the best life balance for her and tips for all types of moms. Video provided by TheStreet
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