Researchers link defects in a nuclear receptor in the brain to autism spectrum disorders

Posted on March 16, 2018

Two University of Houston scientists are reporting that defects in a portion of the brain's hippocampus, called the dentate gyrus (DG), is regulated by the nuclear receptor LXRβ (Liver X receptor Beta). The DG is responsible for emotion and memory and is known to be involved in autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
It was found that defects in the neurogenesis of the DG seem to be involved in the etiology of autism spectrum disorders and their associated behaviors. Specifically, defects in the nuclear receptor LXRβ has emerged as the possible culprit of defects in the DG.
Therefore, to test the effect of the LXRβ protein, they devised experiments to factor it out. Taking LXRβ protein out of the equation actually led to autistic behavior and reduced cognitive flexibility. It was found to cause hypoplasia or underdevelopment in the DG and autistic-like behaviors, including abnormal social interaction and repetitive behavior
Behavioral studies confirmed that ablation of LXRβ caused behavior disorders relevant to major ASD symptoms. Social interaction deficits, as key phenotypic traits of ASD, were evident. This new research has shed light on the role of nuclear receptors in brain functions and paved the way for future study on ASD.

Category(s):Autism spectrum disorders

Source material from Science Daily

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