December 10, 2008
Autism and the FKBP12 Protein: The Significance
Recently the AFP posted this article on the absence of the FKBP12 protein being the root of autism and various other obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Â The article outlines the behavior of mice when the FKBP12 protein was removed, resembling those same symptoms associated with the above disorders.Â Essentially, this protein regulates the release of the enzyme mTOR that in turn regulates neuron connections and behaviors between neurons. Â Removing the protein increased mTOR amounts, which in turn increases connections and changes of connections within the brain. Â Logically, a similar protein within the human brain should have the same effect.Â But is this what autism really is? Â Just a missing protein? Â I've talked about this with other research that was done for those with Fragile X Syndrome exhibiting autism-like behaviors, as well as the commonly held belief that autism is nothing more than mercury poisoning. Â All have the characteristics of children with autism, isn't it all the same? Â Yes, if you look at the effected area: the brain.An increase of neuron communication produces the behavior changes, which in turn cause the Autism symptoms to come to light. Â Increased brain activity is the cause of autism. Â It's that increased brain activity that the medical community is trying to get a handle on. Â What causes it? Â How is it created? Â Is there a way to avoid it? Â Is there a way to treat it?My personally held belief is that true Autism is the result of enlarged brains and/or more dense gray matter vs. white matter. Â This increases the number of neurons that make connections, as opposed to effecting the rate of communication for the individual neuron. Â All other disorders that are environmentally manipulated or caused by external disorders (Fragile X Syndrome, mercury poisoning, cassein/gluten reaction, etc.) produce autism-like symptoms, but are not related to those with the autism brain. Â Of course, the problem with this definition is that not many people agree on it because of what little is known about Autism. Â Keep in mind that autism was defined originally as a behavioral disorder, focusing on the behavioral patterns of the patients in relation to the "norm". Â It was not identified as anything more until recently when neuropsychologists began to delve into the patterns in the brain, synapses, and such. Â So the long and the short of it is: Â the field is still really new, so take everything released now in context before you start claiming you have a cure for autism.