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Altern Ther Health Med. 2009 Jan-Feb;15(1):60-7.

A possible central mechanism in autism spectrum disorders, part 2: immunoexcitotoxicity.

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  • Belhaven College, Jackson, Mississippi, USA.

Abstract

In this section, I explore the effects of mercury and inflammation on transsulfuration reactions, which can lead to elevations in androgens, and how this might relate to the male preponderance of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). It is known that mercury interferes with these biochemical reactions and that chronically elevated androgen levels also enhance the neurodevelopmental effects of excitotoxins. Both androgens and glutamate alter neuronal and glial calcium oscillations, which are known to regulate cell migration, maturation, and final brain cytoarchitectural structure. Studies have also shown high levels of DHEA and low levels of DHEA-S in ASD, which can result from both mercury toxicity and chronic inflammation. Chronic microglial activation appears to be a hallmark of ASD. Peripheral immune stimulation, mercury, and elevated levels of androgens can all stimulate microglial activation. Linked to both transsulfuration problems and chronic mercury toxicity are elevations in homocysteine levels in ASD patients. Homocysteine and especially its metabolic products are powerful excitotoxins. Intimately linked to elevations in DHEA, excitotoxicity and mercury toxicity are abnormalities in mitochondrial function. A number of studies have shown that reduced energy production by mitochondria greatly enhances excitotoxicity. Finally, I discuss the effects of chronic inflammation and elevated mercury levels on glutathione and metallothionein.

PMID:
19161050
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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