New Signaling Pathway found in individuals with Autism

A recently released study found mutations in individuals with autism that block the action of molecules made by the brain.

The mutations refer to the endocannabinoid signaling pathway that act on the same that are affected by the Marijuana drug. The findings implicate endocannabinoids, in the development of some and point to potential treatment strategies.

“Endocannabinoids are molecules that are critical regulators of normal neuronal activity and are important for many ,” says first author Dr. Földy, of . “By conducting studies in mice, we found that neuroligin-3, a protein that is mutated in some individuals with autism, is important for relaying endocannabinoid signals that communication between neurons.”

“These out an unexpected link between a protein implicated in autism and a signaling system that previously had not been considered to be particularly important for autism,” says senior author Dr. Thomas Südhof, also of Stanford. “Thus, the findings open up a new area of research and may suggest for understanding the underlying causes of complex .”

The research underscores the complex nature of the autism spectrum disorders.

Source

Földy, Robert C. Malenka, . Südhof. Autism-Associated Neuroligin-3 Mutations Commonly Disrupt Tonic Endocannabinoid Signaling. , 2013 (in press) DOI: 10.1016/j..2013.02.036

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