Autism clues in the brain vessels

by Dr. Alan Kadish NMD

A publication from NY University details their findings on the blood vessels in autistics and how they are different causing a change in blood flow in the brain. This is thought be another avenue to exploit and potentially change the outcomes of these kids. The findings where obvious lack of blood clearly shifts the brains ability to grow and organize in a typical manner is significant.

A number of years ago there were findings that the neurons in ASD kids formed in an unorganized manner. We all have an “excess” of neuron growth that is then pruned over time. The idea of “pruning” or lack thereof is one of the key indications that one’s brain may not be typical. Pruning is the signaling of organization, much like gardening, where too much is destructive to the clarity and growth of the organism and chaos occurs. This phenomena is seen in the development of  the neurons in autistic children. 

In reading the paper I wonder if the vascular changes are part of the lack of nutritional integrity commonly seen in ASD. There is a very distinct metabolic criteria needed for proper development of blood vessels. The next studies should include levels of multiple nutrients and a history of the mom’s status both pre and post pregnancy. I’d suggest we look at the omega 3 oils, vitamin C along with protein and iron.

At the Center we use a number of current tests and evaluations to get a clear set of signals how your child is developing. The NYU work on both nestin and CD34 proteins is potentially another means of determining if interventions for the brain vascular should be initiated.


Scientists Find New Vessel for Detecting Autism

Tue, 12/22/2015 – 9:41am
Evidence of autism may be found in the composition and malfunction of the brain’s blood vessels, a team of scientists has found. Their research sheds new light on the causes of autism, which previously had pointed to neurological make-up rather than to the vascular system, and identifies a new target for potential therapeutic intervention.

“Our findings show that those afflicted with autism have unstable blood vessels, disrupting proper delivery of blood to the brain,” explains Efrain Azmitia, a professor in NYU’s Department of Biology and the study’s senior author.

The study, “Persistent Angiogenesis in the Autism Brain: An Immunocytochemical Study of Postmortem Cortex, Brainstem and Cerebellum,” appears in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Its other co-authors were: Zachary Saccomano, an NYU graduate student; Mohammed Alzoobaee, an NYU undergraduate at the time of the study; Maura Boldrini, a research scientist in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University; and Patricia Whitaker-Azmitia, a professor in the Department of Psychology and director of the Graduate Program in Integrative Neurosciences at Stony Brook University.

“In a typical brain, blood vessels are stable, thereby ensuring a stable distribution of blood,” adds Azmitia, also an adjunct professor at NYU School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry. “Whereas in the autism brain, the cellular structure of blood vessels continually fluctuates, which results in circulation that is fluctuating and, ultimately, neurologically limiting.”

In their study, the researchers examined human postmortem brain tissue—some from normal brains and others from those with an autism diagnosis. In the microscopic analysis, the scientists were blind to the nature of the tissue, not knowing if it came from an autistic brain or a typical one.

Their cellular studies uncovered angiogenesis—the creation of new blood vessels—in the autistic brain tissue, but not in that of typical brains. The distinction is a significant one—evidence of angiogenesis indicates that these vessels are repeatedly being formed and in constant flux, underscoring an instability in the blood’s delivery mechanism. Specifically, in autistic brains, they found increased levels of the proteins nestin and CD34—molecular markers of angiogenesis—compared to typical brains.

“We found that angiogenesis is correlated with more neurogenesis in other brain diseases, therefore there is the possibility that a change in brain vasculature in autism means a change in cell proliferation or maturation, or survival, and brain plasticity in general. These changes could potentially affect brain networks,” Boldrini noted.

“It’s clear that there are changes in brain vascularization in autistic individuals from two to 20 years that are not seen in normally developing individuals past the age of two years,” observes Azmitia. “Now that we know this, we have new ways of looking at this disorder and, hopefully with this new knowledge, novel and more effective ways to address it.”

The study was supported, in part, by grants from NYU UCRF and the National Institutes of Health. Boldrini’s contribution was supported by the New York Stem Cell Initiative, NIMH, the Diane Goldberg Foundation, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.

Source: New York University

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Dr. Kadish is an unusual physician often referred to as a "doctor detective". His expertise is the evaluation and treatment of complex disorders, typically after other physicians have been stumped, is renowned. He provides care for all family members and has additional training in autistic spectrum disorders and chronic complex diseases.