Genes, hormones and the environment: the possible causes of autism

Genes , hormones and the environment can generate autistic behaviors : if autism has a specific cause, perhaps, it is found in this triad of factors . A study by the Irccs Santa Lucia Foundation and the Bio-Medical Campus says it , conducted in collaboration with the Istituto Superiore di Sanità and the University of Pisa and published online on Neurotoxicology.

A research that confirms the multifactorial pathogenetic hypothesis and therefore tries to propose a model that takes these components into account to detect autism risk. A disease, autism, which begins already before the age of three and is recognized by the first unmistakable symptoms: the child has difficulty speaking, communicating and dealing with others . And it isolates itself. Throwing himself, and with him his parents, in solitude.

Why it develops remains a mystery and, once the trivalent vaccine has been cleared as a possible cause, the belief remains among experts that the genetic factor is certainly of considerable importance . In addition, statistical studies, experiments and clinical realities have also given a great deal of responsibility to hormonal variations during development and to possible environmental toxicants.

Starting from these elements, genes, hormones and the environment, which interact on a cellular and behavioral level, three years ago, thanks to funding from the USA Autism Speaks foundation, research began on the Irccs Santa Lucia Foundation and the Campus Bio. -Medical, in collaboration with the Istituto Superiore di Sanità and the University of Pisa.

THE EXPERIMENTS – The studies were performed through the analysis of the effects of sex hormones, the genetic alteration of the synthesis of reline (a fundamental protein in embryogenesis, the development of the embryo from the fertilized egg) and exposure to mercury in the prenatal and perinatal period on the development of autistic behaviors. The result is that the interaction between these elements, therefore the coexistence of hormonal, genetic and environmental conditions, induced the appearance of different indicators of autistic disorder both on a cellular and behavioral level.

A step forward towards the knowledge of this serious disease? Likely. The fact remains that, for now, autistic children – but also adults – need, albeit in their very private world, to know that they can freely express themselves as best they can.

by Abdullah Sam
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