MAY 16, 2016 8:30 AM PDT

Unstable blood vessels seen in autistic brains

When researchers examined human postmortem brain tissue—some from typical brains and others from those with an autism diagnosis—they found evidence of changes to blood vessels in autistic brains.
"In a typical brain, blood vessels are stable, thereby ensuring a stable distribution of blood," says Efrain Azmitia. "Whereas in the autism brain, the cellular structure of blood vessels continually fluctuates, which results in circulation that is fluctuating and, ultimately, neurologically limiting."
“Our findings show that those afflicted with autism have unstable blood vessels, disrupting proper delivery of blood to the brain,” explains Efrain Azmitia, a biology professor at New York University and senior author of the study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

“In a typical brain, blood vessels are stable, thereby ensuring a stable distribution of blood,” adds Azmitia. “Whereas in the autism brain, the cellular structure of blood vessels continually fluctuates, which results in circulation that is fluctuating and, ultimately, neurologically limiting.”

Azmitia and colleagues uncovered angiogenesis—the creation of new blood vessels—in the autistic brain tissue, but not in that of typical brains. The distinction is a significant one—evidence of angiogenesis indicates that these vessels are repeatedly being formed and in constant flux, underscoring an instability in the blood’s delivery mechanism.

Specifically, in autistic brains, they found increased levels of the proteins nestin and CD34—molecular markers of angiogenesis—compared to typical brains.

“We found that angiogenesis is correlated with more neurogenesis in other brain diseases, therefore there is the possibility that a change in brain vasculature in autism means a change in cell proliferation or maturation, or survival, and brain plasticity in general. These changes could potentially affect brain networks,” says Maura Boldrini, a research scientist in psychiatry department at Columbia University and a study coauthor.

“It’s clear that there are changes in brain vascularization in autistic individuals from two to 20 years that are not seen in normally developing individuals past the age of two years,” says Azmitia. “Now that we know this, we have new ways of looking at this disorder and, hopefully with this new knowledge, novel and more effective ways to address it.”

Grants from NYU UCRF, the National Institutes of Health, the New York Stem Cell Initiative, the Diane Goldberg Foundation, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation supported the work.

Other researchers from NYU and Stony Brook University contributed to the study.

Source: NYU

This article was originally published on Futurity.org.
About the Author
  • Futurity features the latest discoveries by scientists at top research universities in the US, UK, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The nonprofit site, which launched in 2009, is supported solely by its university partners (listed below) in an effort to share research news directly with the public.
You May Also Like
NOV 19, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
NOV 19, 2019
Experimental Cholesterol-Lowering Drug
A recent study shows that patients who take a maximum dose of statin drugs in addition to a twice-yearly injection of th ...
JAN 09, 2020
Neuroscience
JAN 09, 2020
Increased Autism Risk for Children Born with Heart Disease
Children born with congenital heart disease (CHD) have a life expectancy comparable to that of the general population. H ...
JAN 17, 2020
Cardiology
JAN 17, 2020
Eating Walnuts Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
Walnuts may be more than just a tasty snack. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have found that they may al ...
JAN 21, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
JAN 21, 2020
Smoking Weed May Cause Heart Problems, Study Finds
Researchers have found that there may be a link between smoking marijuana and cardiovascular problems including stroke a ...
APR 07, 2020
Cardiology
APR 07, 2020
Heart Attack Doctors Sit Idle Amid Coronavirus Fears
Across the United States, doctors have reported that hospitals are eerily quiet apart from wards housing patients diagno ...
MAY 15, 2020
Technology
MAY 15, 2020
What is HARVEY?
One of the biggest challenges facing clinical workers is trying to explore user interface treatment options easily witho ...
Loading Comments...