Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by social, communication, and behavioral symptoms. Recent research has attempted to identify the potential mechanisms that may contribute to the pathogenesis of autism. Biomarkers as noninvasive quantitative biological measures with accurate indication of a specific mechanism can lead to a better understanding of the pathogenesis required to design the most effective treatments of autism. There is also great hope that the discovery of valid and predictive biomarkers for this disorder will help earlier and more targeted methods for diagnosis and intervention. In this chapter, we discuss some of the current theorized mechanisms contributing to autism, including inflammation, oxidative stress, impaired detoxification, glutamate excitotoxicity, gut-microbiota-brain axis, impaired fatty acid profiling, and serotonin (5-HT)/oxytocin (OT) abnormalities as target to treat autism. Moreover, based on our understanding of the role of these mechanisms, selected treatment strategies are suggested. These strategies include nutraceuticals, probiotics/prebiotics and ω-3 supplementation, targeting glutamate transporters or selective 5-HT reuptake inhibitors, and intranasal OT treatment. Of course, the joint efforts of scientists, caregivers, and other stakeholders must combine to identify valid, clinically useful autism biomarkers that may lead to efficient treatment strategy and/or combined strategies.
Part of the book: Role of Biomarkers in Medicine
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder clinically presented as abnormalities in social interaction and communication, repetitive behaviors, usually accompanied by various neurobehavioral disorders, such as learning disability, hyperactivity and anxiety.
Part of the book: Fatty Acids
Recently, a great concern has risen about the increasing prevalence of autism as a neurodevelopmental disorder. Environmental factors as significant contributors to children’s health through a wide range of routes are linked to remarkable increases in this disorder. It is well known and accepted that young children are more vulnerable to environmental toxins, compared to adults. Modern day lifestyles with more mercury and lead exposures, fast food, cell phones, and microwaves place children at higher risk of neurotoxicity. Moreover, a huge number of synthetic chemicals termed as high-production-volume (HPV) chemicals are found in many products such as medications, cosmetics, building materials, plastic, and car fuels. These HPVs highly contribute to brain damage in developing infants. Other environmental toxins include thalidomide, valproic acid, misoprostol, and many infectious agents among which are pathogenic bacteria or their metabolites are found to be neurotoxic and/or linked to incidences of autism. This chapter summarizes the most important routes of exposure to environmental neurotoxins and explains how these toxins are related to the remarkable increase in the prevalence of autism through different etiological mechanisms such as oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, impaired neurochemistry and glutamate excitotoxicity.
Part of the book: Neurotoxins