Characterizing autism spectrum disorders by key biochemical pathways

Megha Subramanian, Christina K. Timmerman, Joshua L. Schwartz, Daniel L. Pham, Mollie K. Meffert

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

The genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) presents a substantial challenge for diagnosis, classification, research, and treatment. Investigations into the underlying molecular etiology of ASD have often yielded mixed and at times opposing findings. Defining the molecular and biochemical underpinnings of heterogeneity in ASD is crucial to our understanding of the pathophysiological development of the disorder, and has the potential to assist in diagnosis and the rational design of clinical trials. In this review, we propose that genetically diverse forms of ASD may be usefully parsed into entities resulting from converse patterns of growth regulation at the molecular level, which lead to the correlates of general synaptic and neural overgrowth or undergrowth. Abnormal brain growth during development is a characteristic feature that has been observed both in children with autism and in mouse models of autism. We review evidence from syndromic and non-syndromic ASD to suggest that entities currently classified as autism may fundamentally differ by underlying pro- or anti-growth abnormalities in key biochemical pathways, giving rise to either excessive or reduced synaptic connectivity in affected brain regions. We posit that this classification strategy has the potential not only to aid research efforts, but also to ultimately facilitate early diagnosis and direct appropriate therapeutic interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number313
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Volume9
Issue numberSEP
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorders (ASD)
  • ERK signaling
  • MAP kinase signaling system
  • MTOR pathway
  • Neurotrophic factors
  • Protein synthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Characterizing autism spectrum disorders by key biochemical pathways'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this