The recent focus on new treatments for autism spectrum disorders has focused heavily on the immune component of this disease. Doctors around the world are increasingly convinced that autism can be triggered by an autoimmune process leading to damage to the body’s neurological system.
Numerous studies have shown aberrant immune markers found more frequently in autistic children than in normal healthy children, but most of these markers never reached the general public, but their access was strictly limited to the general public. research.
However, that has now changed.
A few years ago, researchers found that a protein called neurotensin was extremely high in children with autism. They showed that this peptide releases mitochondrial DNA into the extracellular space (outside the cell), which acts as an autoimmune trigger.
Mitochondria are essentially the “powerhouse” of the cell. If its function becomes abnormal, cells no longer have the energy to function properly, resulting in either cell death or severely limited function. Either way, cells with damaged mitochondria do not perform well. Neurons are very sensitive to mitochondrial damage, having a smaller amount compared to other cells requiring large amounts of energy, such as muscles.
Mitochondria have their own DNA content separate from our own cells. If this mitochondrial DNA were somehow released into the extracellular space, then the body would react to it as if it were foreign, like a virus or bacteria, creating an immune response. Well, that’s exactly what the neurotensin was doing. Studies have shown that when neurotensin is high, mitochondrial DNA is found outside in the extracellular space.
Recently, in the Journal of Neuroinflammation, researchers took it one step further. Since Neurotensin is not commercially available, they decided to test the markers that were. They also wanted to determine whether this extracellular mitochondrial DNA actually elicited an immune response. In this way, parents can be able to make a definitive decision whether their child’s immune system is attacking the mitochondria.
Enter anti-mitochondrial type II antibody, a marker used for primary biliary chirrosis.
The researchers found that this antibody was significantly elevated in children with autism compared to children without autism, demonstrating that many children with autism responded to their own mitochondria. They postulated that this reaction affected multiple aspects of the immune system, laying the groundwork for potential damage or excessive inflammation.
This is an excellent study, showing a possible cause and effect process. Anti-mitochondrial antibodies can be tested, with most insurance companies covering them.
If your child has never been tested for the antibody, it may be worth having it ordered by your doctor. Knowing that your child may be suffering from an autoimmune process is huge. It will definitely be a marker that I use and will change the way I treat my patients.