Monday, November 17, 2008

Autism and Nicotine Addiction - The Neurexin Connection

Science Daily reports on findings presented by Rene Anand, associate professor of pharmacology in Ohio State University’s College of Medicine and principal investigator of research presented today at the at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington, D.C. The findings identified a relationship between two proteins in the brain that have links to both nicotine addiction and autism suggesting a possible drug therapy to alleviate some symptoms of autism.

The neurexin-1 gene produces a protein which lures another protein "a specific type of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, to the synapses, where the receptor then has a role in helping neurons communicate signals among themselves and to the rest of the body." Persons with autism have previously been found to have a shortage of nicotinic receptors in their brains while people who are addicted to nicotine have too many.

There is some speculation that drugs known as cholinergic agents, used to counter nicotine addiction, could be adjusted for use in autistic children in an effort to increase the level of neurexin-1 beta protein in their brains. It is hoped that more neurexin would alleviate some of the symptoms of autism by encouraging the presence of more nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and number of other proteins important for the proper formation and maturation of synapses.

These cholinergic agents already exist so presumably they will be adjusted for autism as described and their effectiveness tested in the near future.

The Autism Knowledge Revolution continues.

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Deepak said...

In addition to nicotine, cigarette smoke is primarily composed of a dozen gases (mainly carbon monoxide) and tar. The tar in a cigarette, which varies from about 15 mg for a regular cigarette to 7 mg in a low-tar cigarette, exposed the user to an increased risk of lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial disorders

Anonymous said...

I'd rather have Cancer than Autism, thank you.