Autism Linked To Brain Blood Vessel

Brain Blood Vessels

Researchers investigating the potential causes of autism have identified a blood vessel in the brain that may explain some cases. Hitherto autism has been linked with the neurological make-up of the brain.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour.

Research, carried out at New York University, has shown some people with autism have unstable blood vessels and this appears to disrupt the flow of blood to the brain. The brain of someone with autism contrasts with a person without the condition, in that there is a stable flow of blood in non-autistic people. The finding has come about from post-mortem analyses of brain tissue.

The brains of people with autism were found to have evidence of angiogenesis, which refers to the development of additional blood vessels. These blood vessels appear to be continually formed, which disrupts the blood delivery process to the brain. The continual changes were marked by the presence of proteins (nestin and CD34) which are associated with new blood vessel formation and which serve as bio-markers for angiogenesis.

The finding links the composition and malfunction of the brain’s blood vessels to the learning difficulty. If proven, it could lead to a new area for therapy.

The research is published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, in a paper titled “Persistent Angiogenesis in the Autism Brain: An Immunocytochemical Study of Postmortem Cortex, Brainstem and Cerebellum.”

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.