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Fish show autism-like gene expression in water with psychoactive pharmaceuticals

Date:
June 6, 2012
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Psychoactive medications in water affect the gene expression profiles of fathead minnows in a way that mimics the gene expression patterns associated with autism spectrum disorder in genetically susceptible humans, according to new research.

Psychoactive medications in water affect the gene expression profiles of fathead minnows in a way that mimics the gene expression patterns associated with autism spectrum disorder in genetically susceptible humans, according to research published June 6 in the open access journal PLoS ONE. These results suggest a potential environmental trigger for autism spectrum disorder in this vulnerable population, the authors write.

The researchers, led by Michael A. Thomas of Idaho State University, exposed the fish to three psychoactive pharmaceuticals -- fluoxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSR1; venlafaxine, a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, and carbamazepine, used to control seizures -- at concentrations comparable to the highest estimated environmental levels.

They found that the only gene expression patterns affected were those associated with idiopathic autism spectrum disorders, caused by genetic susceptibility interacting with unknown environmental triggers. These results suggest that exposure to environmental psychoactive pharmaceuticals may play a role in the development of autism spectrum disorder in genetically predisposed individuals.

Lead researcher Michael A. Thomas remarks, "While others have envisioned a causal role for psychotropic drugs in idiopathic autism, we were astonished to find evidence that this might occur at very low dosages, such as those found in aquatic systems."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michael A. Thomas, Rebecca D. Klaper. Psychoactive Pharmaceuticals Induce Fish Gene Expression Profiles Associated with Human Idiopathic Autism. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (6): e32917 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032917

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Fish show autism-like gene expression in water with psychoactive pharmaceuticals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120606193853.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2012, June 6). Fish show autism-like gene expression in water with psychoactive pharmaceuticals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120606193853.htm
Public Library of Science. "Fish show autism-like gene expression in water with psychoactive pharmaceuticals." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120606193853.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

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