A stereological investigation of key biomarkers of Purkinje cell survival in autism
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Post-mortem investigations have consistently reported decreased numbers of Purkinje cells in crus II of the cerebellum in autism; however, many have done so through qualitative or non-stereological methods. Subsets of Purkinje cells express the brain-specific, glycolytic enzyme aldolase C in parasagittal stripes throughout the cerebellar cortex. Research has shown aldolase C expression protects neurons from glutamate-mediated excitotoxicity. Therefore, the objectives of this study are to quantify the extent of Purkinje cell loss in crus II of the cerebellum and investigate the role of aldolase C as a neuroprotective enzyme using immunohistochemical and stereological techniques. This study found no significant difference in the density of Purkinje cells between autism and controls. Additionally, there were equal densities of aldolase C and PV in autism and controls. The results of this study are valid only the area examined because stereological methods were limited to small sample size and area. Future studies should sample extensively throughout the entire cerebellum to clarify if patterned PC loss is present in autism.
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