Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 31 n°56

Investigate How Blood Flow in the Brain is Affected by Autism

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 10 febbraio 2019

Each year, one in 59 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a condition that impacts a child’s social, emotional, and behavioral development. The rate of diagnosis has grown, tripling in the last 15 years. While genetic and environmental influences have been implicated as potential causes of ASD, little is known about its neurobiology.
In a study published recently in the journal Biological Psychiatry, CHLA’s Bradley Peterson, MD, uncovers a direct link between altered brain activity and social deficits in ASD. Peterson’s group studied 44 individuals with ASD and compared them with 66 typically-developing participants. Groups were matched for age, sex, and IQ.Peterson’s team used advanced imaging techniques to acquire two types of information. First, the group used a method called arterial spin labeling, which measures blood flow through the vessels of the brain. Because active parts of the brain need the most oxygen and nutrients, more blood flow to an area signals increased brain activity. Second, the team measured levels of NAA, an amino acid byproduct commonly used as a marker of healthy neurons.“This is a multimodal imaging data set,” explains Peterson, Director of the Institute for the Developing Mind at CHLA and Professor of Pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “Each modality gives us a different window into the brain. We are able to look through both windows at once to tell us much more about what’s going on in the brains of these individuals.”
Our brains have about 100 billion cells, which communicate with each other through long, wire-like branches called axons. These axons are coated with myelin, a specialized wrapping – like wire insulation – that helps the messages flow faster from one cell to another. Because myelin appears white, communication pathways between cells are collectively called white matter. Cell bodies, or gray matter, are not coated as extensively in myelin and therefore do not appear white. Studies show that communication between distant brain cells is disrupted in ASD due to fewer long-range connections between cells and thinner myelin. Given these differences in white matter, decreased blood flow and activity in this region would make sense.

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