Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Saliva and pupil size differences in autism show system in overdrive

Date:
July 12, 2012
Source:
University of Kansas, Life Span Institute
Summary:
Researchers have found potential biomarkers of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) that include pupil size and a salivary enzyme. These findings have the potential to significantly impact screening and detection of ASD, as they can be non-invasively measured in infancy, and may hold key to neural pathology of the disorder within the autonomic nervous system.

University of Kansas researchers have found larger resting pupil size and lower levels of a salivary enzyme associated with the neurotransmitter norepinephrine in children with autism spectrum disorder.

However, even though the levels of the enzyme, salivary alpha-amylase (sAA), were lower than those of typically-developing children in samples taken in the afternoon in the lab, samples taken at home throughout the day showed that sAA levels were higher in general across the day and much less variable for children with ASD.

"What this says is that the autonomic system of children with ASD is always on the same level," Christa Anderson, assistant research professor, said. "They are in overdrive."

The sAA levels of typically-developing children gradually rise and fall over the day, said Anderson, who co-directed the study with John Colombo, professor of psychology.

Norepinephrine (NE) has been found in the blood plasma levels of individuals with ASD but some researchers have questioned whether these levels were just related to the stress from blood draws.

The KU study addressed this by collecting salivary measures by simply placing a highly absorbent sponge swab under the child's tongue and confirmed that this method of collection did not stress the children by assessing their stress levels through cortisol, another hormone.

Collecting sAA levels has the potential for physicians to screen children for ASD much earlier, noninvasively and relatively inexpensively, said Anderson.

But Anderson and Colombo also see pupil size and sAA levels as biomarkers that could be the physiological signatures of a possible dysfunction in the autonomic nervous system.

"Many theories of autism propose that the disorder is due to deficits in higher-order brain areas," said Colombo. "Our findings, however, suggest that the core deficits may lie in areas of the brain typically associated with more fundamental, vital functions."

The study, published online in the May 29, 2012 Developmental Psychobiology compared children between the ages of 20 and 72 months of age diagnosed with ASD to a group of typically developing children and a third group of children with Down Syndrome.

Both findings address the Centers for Disease Control's urgent public health priority goals for ASD: to find biological indicators that can both help screen children earlier and lead to better understanding of how the nervous system develops and functions in the disorder.

Colombo is the director and Anderson is research faculty member of the University of Kansas Life Span Institute that focuses on neurodevelopmental and translational research across the life span.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Kansas, Life Span Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Kansas, Life Span Institute. "Saliva and pupil size differences in autism show system in overdrive." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120712131529.htm>.
University of Kansas, Life Span Institute. (2012, July 12). Saliva and pupil size differences in autism show system in overdrive. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120712131529.htm
University of Kansas, Life Span Institute. "Saliva and pupil size differences in autism show system in overdrive." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120712131529.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) More and more studies are showing positive benefits to playing video games, but the jury is still out on brain training programs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Spouse's Personality May Influence Your Earnings

Your Spouse's Personality May Influence Your Earnings

Newsy (Sep. 26, 2014) Research from Washington University suggest people with conscientious spouses have greater career success. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can A Blood Test Predict Psychosis Risk?

Can A Blood Test Predict Psychosis Risk?

Newsy (Sep. 26, 2014) Researchers say certain markers in the blood can predict risk of psychosis later in the life. The test can aid in early treatment for the condition. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Harpist Soothes Gorillas, Orangutans With Music

Harpist Soothes Gorillas, Orangutans With Music

AP (Sep. 25, 2014) Teri Tacheny, a harpist, has a loyal following of fans who appreciate her soothing music. Every month, gorillas, orangutans and monkeys amble down to hear her play at the Como Park Zoo in Minnesota. (Sept. 25) Video provided by AP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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