Study of inhibitory neurons in Broca's area in autism
House, Elva Lucille
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Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) experience a variety of symptoms that vary dramatically across individuals and can range from severe impairments to minor issues with social interactions and communication. The underlying cause of ASD is still unknown, and the level of influence that genetic and environmental factors have on the severity and occurrence of ASD is still a topic of great debate. Since the theories concerning cause or causes of ASD are multifactorial, the treatment options available are extremely limited and are based on behavioral testing. Alternatively, genetic testing might be considered in a diagnosis protocol. This study is designed to investigate ASD by assessing the variability of three genes associated with neuronal inhibition. Based on previous studies this experiment hypothesized that GAD1, GAD2, and PAVLB expression is decreased in Broca’s area in individuals with ASD when compared to controls, with the premise that this alteration could contribute to the symptoms involving language and communication. In situ hybridization was used to quantify the expression of the GAD1, GAD2, and PVALB genes in Broca’s area in postmortem human tissue. The variability of these three genes was quantified by measuring the amount of radioactively tagged mRNA in fifty cell bodies in each brain sample. This study used twenty-two brains of individuals with ASD and twenty-one control brains, including age matched males and females. The variables of age and sex are analyzed and discussed as well as the emulsion and film analyses. A decrease in parvalbumin expression was found between the ASD and control groups in Broca’s area. These finding were discussed in the context of symptoms and neuropathological features of ASD.