Synaptic networks in brains of rodent models of autism
Photo: Stephane Baudouin
These negative effects are associated with increased production of a specific neuronal glutamate receptor, which modulates the signal transmission between neurons. An excess of these receptors inhibits the adaptation of the synaptic signal transmission during the learning process, thus disrupting the development and function of the brain in the long term.Of major importance is the finding that the impaired development of the neuronal circuit in the brain is reversible. When the scientists reactivated the production of neuroligin-3 in the mice, the nerve cells scaled down the production of the glutamate receptors to a normal level and the structural defects in the brain typical for autism disappeared. Hence, these glutamate receptors could be a suitable pharmacological target in order to stop the developmental disorder autism or even reverse it.
Andrea Schürpf | Universität Basel
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