Scientists Discover Clue to Hyperlinks Between Autism, Epilepsy | Well being and Health
MONDAY, December 20, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Children with autism have low levels of a protein that soothes overactive brain cells, which, according to a new study, could explain why so many have epilepsy.
Because the protein can be found in cerebrospinal fluid, researchers at Northwestern University say it has great promise as a marker for diagnosing autism and as a potential treatment target for the sometimes associated epilepsy.
The protein identified in this study – called CNTNAP2 or “Catnap2” – is made by brain cells when they become overactive. Because the brains of children with autism and epilepsy don’t have enough of it, their brains don’t calm down, which leads to seizures, the study authors explained.
“We can replace CNTNAP2,” said lead study author Peter Penzes, director of the Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern Chicago. “We can and should be able to do it in a test tube [to] inject it into children’s spinal fluid, which flows back into their brains. “
For the study, the researchers analyzed cerebrospinal fluid from people with autism and epilepsy, as well as from mice. The protein level in the cerebrospinal fluid helps determine the level in the brain.