Sunday, April 26, 2020

UNH researchers are one step closer to understanding why autism is four times more common in boys than in girls after identifying and characterizing the connection of certain proteins in the brain to autism spectrum disorders.

Autism graphic

“Our study is the first to look at the sex-biased regulation of proteins in the brain and how they may play a role in affecting abnormal changes in the body that result in autism,” says Xuanmao Chen, assistant professor of neurobiology and lead author of a recent study published in the journal Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience. “Our results suggest that proteins in the female brain, particularly autism-related proteins, are more tightly regulated than those in the male brain, possibly helping to prevent the development of autism in females,” says Chen.

Chen, who is a lead investigator in UNH’s Center of Integrated Biomedical and Bioengineering Research, says that this National Institutes of Health-funded research is still in the early phase with mouse models and that more studies are needed, but he is hopeful that it may open up a new research direction and one day could possibly lead to a new pharmacological treatment.