Brain Gene Registry; neurite density; income disparities in autism diagnoses

Here is a roundup of autism-related news and research spotted around the web for the week of 29 April.

  • The growth factor BMP2 seems to be a regulatory target for maintaining the balance of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission in the mouse brain. Spectrum has an explainer about the signaling imbalance theory of autism. Nature
Research image of glutaminergic synapses on parvalbumin interneurons.
Missed connections: Mice missing the BMP2 gene (right panels) form fewer glutaminergic synapses onto parvalbumin interneurons than do controls (left panels).
  • Altered transcription spurred by a variety of autism-linked genes often converges on a small number of developmental pathways, according to a preprint about cortical organoids derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells. bioRxiv
  • Gene variants linked to autism are also linked to decreased neurite density in the brain, according to a preprint that used UK BioBank data. medRxiv
  • Low-income families have a higher prevalence of autism diagnoses than do high-income families, according to an analysis by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
  • The U.K. Metropolitan Police are investigating advertisers hawking false claims about stem cell therapy for autism. BBC
  • A new resource called the Brain Gene Registry contains genetic and phenotypic data from people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; its goal is to help researchers better characterize the links between genes and conditions such as autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders
  • Speech-processing difficulties in autistic children may be related to altered integration of auditory and visual stimuli, according to a preprint. bioRxiv
  • Alterations in executive function in autistic children appear to contribute to the likelihood of having mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression or aggression. Autism
  • Mental health conditions affect sleep quality in children with fragile X syndrome, which, in turn, affects daily functioning at school. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
  • Different variants of the SCN2A gene, which are linked to autism and epilepsy, confer different effects on sodium channel function, and different clinical profiles. Brain

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