Sensory nerve cells & ASD

cranial nerves I read in Brain & Behavior today that the optic and olfactory nerves develop from brain tissue.  Those cells will have the same mitochondrial lineage as the brain, and could hint at a physiological typology of Autism.

Many people with ASD have “sensory issues,” particularly unusual visual perception.  I don’t know how remarkable hypersensitivity to smell is in ASD, but the close relationship between smell and taste points to the tendency toward picky eating with ASD.  It does not address the issues of people who are very sensitive to texture, but that hasn’t been a high support area in our family’s cases.

Mitochondrial lineage is important because the mitochondrial function has been linked with cases of autism with 2 characteristics:  less severity, and found relatively more often in females (39% rather than the 25% in the general ASD population).  There is a mitochondrial uncoupling protein, UCP5 which is specific to brain tissue and is located on the x chromosome.  This could add a third characteristic to this type of Autism, matrilineal descent, which is how it seems to run in my family.  If this were an etiology of autism, it would still be only part of a multifactorial set of conditions.  Our family has 3 grandchildren diagnosed with autism, but a couple dozen who are not.

A quick explanation for what UCP5 does is that it would reduce inflammatory conditions in neurons by (long story short) reducing production of ATP, increasing the availability of phosphate buffer and making pH less acidic.  My speculation is that some people have UCP5 that doesn’t work as well, which would make them more likely to have inflammation in their brains particularly, and also in their optic and olfactory nerves.

ASD & Oxidative Stress is where I gathered sources on mitochondrial dysfunction and autism.  I’m not entirely sure why I did it that way.  I guess I was just really excited about weebly that week.


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