New Research Shows Type 2 Diabetes and Autism May Be Linked, as Reported by DiabeticLive.com
According to Dr. Michael Stern, a biochemist at the Rice University BioScience Research Collective, autism and Type 2 diabetes may be linked since they share a common biological marker as reported by DiabeticLive.com.
Orlando, FL (PRWEB) October 23, 2011
If your child has autism, they may be at risk for type 2 diabetes.
According to Dr. Michael Stern, a biochemist at the Rice University BioScience Research Collective, autism and Type 2 diabetes may be linked since they share a common biological marker.
Ã¢Å“It appears that both Type 2 diabetes and autism have a common underlying mechanism Ã¢” impaired glucose tolerance and hyperinsulinemia,” said Dr. Stern, who published an opinion paper explaining his position in the journal “Frontiers in Cellular Endocrinology.”
Hyperinsulinemia, or chronically elevated blood glucose levels, commonly occurs in obese individuals and those with Type 2 diabetes. It is often a sign of developing insulin resistance.
Dr. Stern believes that other scientists can test his hypothesis by placing children with autism on diets insulin-reducing diets. Ã¢Å“They could do this by putting autistic children on low-carbohydrate diets that minimize insulin secretion and see if their symptoms improve,” he said.
If hyperinsulinemia is in fact associated with autism, Dr. Stern believes that testing pregnant women for glucose tolerance could become regular practice.
Stern first wondered if Type 2 diabetes and autism had common factors years ago. He didn’t pursue the hypothesis with research because he assumed other scientists had already done the same.
Stern noticed that a biochemical pathway called the mGluR-mediated long-term depression pathway was associated with abnormalities in the synapses of fruit flies. These abnormalities could also be linked to another pathway called PI3K/Tor, which plays a role in insulin signaling within cells and is known to be associated with autism. Dr. Stern knew that insulin could cause abnormalities in the synapses similar to the ones that the mGluR pathway could cause.
Dr. Stern realized the possible connection between autism and diabetes when he heard of the increasing rates of autism, which mirror the increase of diabetes.
Ã¢Å“When I read that the incidence of autism was increasing, and combined that with the fact that the incidence of Type 2 diabetes is also increasing, it seemed reasonable that each increase could have the same ultimate cause Ã¢” the increase in hyperinsulinemia in the general population,Ã¢ said Dr. Stern. Ã¢Å“I didnÃ¢t do anything with this notion for a few years because it seemed so obvious that I figured everyone already knew this hypothesis, or had tested it and found it was not true.Ã¢
Ã¢Å“Based on whatÃ¢s already in the literature, insulin needs to be taken seriously as a causative element in autism. I hope that clinicians will take the next step and put this to a rigorous test and determine how to best use this information to benefit patients,” said Stern.
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