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Autism and Glutamate Dysfunction - Avoid The Cause - Race To The Cure

Posted Mar 01 2011 12:00am

Als_glutamate By Teresa Conrick

Having a child with autism changes your life forever. Mine changed sixteen years ago as I saw my daughter regress and begin to have medical issues that went unanswered and tragically, it is happening more frequently to other parents today.  For those reasons, I have become a seeker of truth and healing by reading and examining past and current information regarding autism and the serious medical issues that it includes.  For those of us in the trenches of autism, we know how SICK OUR CHILDREN ARE with issues of sensory overload, severe GI dysfunction, immune dysfunction, mitochondrial dysfunction, mast cell/inflammatory dysfunction, toxic encephalopathy, endocrine system dysfunction and seizures.  Another factor involved in much of that, is the issue of immune-glutamatergic dysfunction.  I know ---  more dysfunction, but that is the medical reality of autism.

So a quick -- Immune-Glutamatergic Dysfunction 101 class -- with Wikipedia:

"Glutamate receptors are synaptic receptors located primarily on the membranes of neuronal cells. Glutamate is one of the 20 amino acids used to assemble proteins and as a result is abundant in many areas of the body, but it also functions as a neurotransmitter and is particularly abundant in the nervous system. Glutamate receptors are responsible for the glutamate-mediated post-synaptic excitation of neural cells, and are important for neural communication, memory formation, learning, and regulation. Furthermore, glutamate receptors are implicated in the pathologies of a number of neurodegenerative diseases due to their central role in excitotoxicity and their prevalence throughout the central nervous system."

Pubmed, the website of medical, peer-reviewed journals, is a great way to read about autism and its many medical dysfunctions, including glutamate receptor issues.  In doing that, I started with just the key words, "glutamate receptor dysfunction" and Pubmed showed 7,043 studies.  I then decided to see what other medical conditions may also be involved with glutamates - glutamate receptor dysfunction plus the word "seizures" gave me 858 studies;  glutamate receptor dysfunction and "schizophrenia" showed 641; glutamate receptor dysfunction with "Parkinson's" had 303; and then typing in "autism" with glutamate receptor dysfunction brought me to 29 medical studies.  Not very many compared to the others. 

One of the first studies,  (HERE)   "Postmortem brain abnormalities of the glutamate neurotransmitter system in autism'. went back to 2001.  Here was the conclusion: "Subjects with autism may have specific abnormalities in the AMPA-type glutamate receptors and glutamate transporters in the cerebellum. These abnormalities may be directly involved in the pathogenesis of the disorder."  That sounds important and so I looked at the other 28 studies to read more.  What was interesting and maybe disturbing is that about half of the studies done were in the last couple of years.  These two specifically caught my attention and seemed to be a trend
"Fragile X and autism: Intertwined at the molecular level leading to targeted treatments":  (HERE) "Research regarding dysregulation of neurotransmitter systems in FXS, including the metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR)1/5 pathway and γ aminobutyric acid (GABA)A pathways, have led to new targeted treatments for FXS. Preliminary evidence suggests that these new targeted treatments will also be beneficial in non-fragile X forms of autism."

Now I am all for treatments but the lack of WHY to much of autism is a cause for concern as well as the dismissal of thousands of parents who witnessed regression after vaccines were given. The autism epidemic rages on, too. This study skips the "why" and goes right to the cure, which obviously will be a cash bonanza for those companies "targeting treatments" but what about targeting the cause of autism?  This study also takes autism and rolls it into Fragile X which seems more of a marketing tool - "Preliminary evidence suggests that these new targeted treatments will also be beneficial in non-fragile X forms of autism."  In checking on the source of this study : Grant Support:R01 HD036071-13/HD/NICHD NIH HHS/United States

Here was another targeting glutamate receptors to autism but there is no concern or worry as to what caused it: "Glutamate receptor dysfunction and drug targets across models of autism spectrum disorders": (HERE)

The title minces no interpretation - "drug targets."  Here also is an indication of what direction they are pointing to - genes - yet because they CAN'T FIND GENES RESPONSIBLE, they will call it "not well understood":  "There is strong evidence that metabotropic and ionotropic glutamate receptors are affected in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), but there are few candidate genes indicating involvement of these receptors. This suggests that glutamate receptor dysregulation may primarily be involved in the expression of ASD, but is an uncommon etiology."

This study is significant and another example of targeting glutamate and autism:  "Targeting neurotensin as a potential novel approach for the treatment of autism" - (HERE) "serum neurotensin levels in children with autistic disorder have been found to be higher than those of normal children. Neurotensin is known to intensify neuronal NMDA-mediated glutamate signaling, which may cause apoptosis in autism. Further, an imbalance of glutamate/GABAergic system in autism has been described. These observations lead to a postulate that neurotensin may accentuate the hyperglutaminergic state in autism, leading to apoptosis. Targeting neurotensin might be a possible novel approach for the treatment of autism."

So what are we to think? Well, there is research that came out after that initial 2001, glutamate/autism study that DID CONNECT autism to glutamate receptor dysfunction.  It is interesting that these "target to drug" studies do not include them in their references.  In 2004, Hornig et al published "Neurotoxic effects of postnatal thimerosal are mouse strain dependent",  (HERE)     meaning that some mice who were treated with thimerosal, the vaccine mercury, after birth then showed glutamate receptor dysfunction: ""Hippocampal architectu¬re and glutamate receptor and transporte¬r immunoreac¬tivity are disrupted in SJL mice by postnatal thimerosal¬".......NR¬1 and NR2b glutamate receptor immunoreac¬tivity patterns are abnormal in the hippocampi of thimerosal treated SJL mice...... Neuronal glutamate transporte¬r immunoreac¬tivity patterns are abnormal in the hippocampi of thimerosal¬-treated SJL mice......¬Seizure related increases in extracellu¬lar glutamate are noted in temporal lobe epilepsy." 

There seems to be an awkward and bewildering irony in here that some of these same companies who want to target drugs for glutamate dysfunction may be companies who are avoiding the target of cause because they also make vaccines which contain thimerosal that target pregnant women (fetuses), infants, toddlers and children. It is no secret that Glutamate is also an ingredient in many vaccines. That may leave a bad taste in the mouth to any who make that connection.  As we look at thimerosal as causing glutamate dysfunction, here is another study not about autism but specifically about levels of mercury and the effect on the glutamate system:

"Methylmercury increases glutamate extracellular levels in frontal cortex of awake rats"  (HERE) "A current hypothesis about methylmercury (MeHg) neurotoxicity proposes that neuronal damage is due to excitotoxicity following glutamate uptake alterations in the astrocyte. , ......we measured the effects of acute exposure to either 10 or 100 microM MeHg through the microdialysis probe, on glutamate extracellular levels in 15 awake animals. ...... immediate and significant elevations in extracellular glutamate at 10 microM (9.8-fold, P<.001) and at 100 microM (2.4-fold, P=.001). This in vivo demonstration of increments of extracellular glutamate supports the hypothesis that dysfunction of glutamate neurotransmission plays a key role in MeHg-induced neural damage."  - This then indicates that a lower dose of mercury can be significantly more excitotoxic.  So when we hear that vaccine companies have LESSENED mercury to trace amounts, these researchers have shown that damage still can occur.  It would appear that glutamates are highly sensitive to the effects of mercury and this again shows even more evidence to a mechanism of vaccine injury, especially as far as autism is concerned. Is mercury the only cause of glutamate receptor and transporte¬r immunoreac-tivity?  It's hard to say as NIH and CDC don't seem to fund those types of studies but here is one from Japan that would make one wonder about MMR
A case of persistent cerebellar ataxia complicated by conversion disorder--confirmed by positive cerebrospinal fluid glutamate receptor delta2 and epsilon2 antibodies]   (HERE)  "We recently encountered a 13-year-old girl who developed persistent cerebellar symptoms one month after mixed measles/rubella vaccination, making it difficult to distinguish this condition from conversion disorders. Severe truncal ataxia was the initial manifestation in this case. The patient had no abnormalities in objective tests but began to show extraordinary circadian variations in certain parameters. Her cerebellar symptoms were thus considered to possibly be associated with conversion disorders. Later, she tested positive for cerebrospinal fluid anti-glutamic acid receptor (GluR) delta2 antibody. The lymphocyte stimulation test yielded a positive reaction to GluRdelta2 antigen. In addition, in the chronic stage SPECT revealed reduced cerebellar blood flow. She was thus diagnosed as having persistent cerebellar ataxia due to autoimmune mechanisms and modification of cerebellar symptoms due to secondary conversion disorders. Our experience with this case suggests that checking cerebrospinal fluid for anti-GluRdelta2 antibody is possibly useful for distinguishing between conversion disorders and cerebellar ataxia due to autoimmune mechanisms."

That sure looks like MMR could also be involved in glutamate issues and then damage to the brain.  The conversion disorder seems to be in the "hysteria" diagnosis domain, that whenever medicine does not like a symptom, they try to dismiss it as  - it's all in your head!  Due to actual labs, they then had to admit error here and include the true MEDICAL reason.  Poor child had a vaccine reaction from her MMR it appears and let's hope the delay in proper diagnosis did not cause more injury.  If you read here  (HERE) you can see that cerebellar ataxia is used to describe newly diagnosed children with autism.  If you go here  (HERE) you can see where cerebellar ataxia and autism are on a list of Immunizations-Neurologic Complications. 
Here is another example of research that the pharmaceutical companies targeting drugs also have not included in their references:

"Protective effects of a vitamin B12 analog, methylcobalamin, against glutamate cytotoxicity in cultured cortical neurons" (HERE) .

How many children, teens and adults with ASD benefit from taking methyl b-12?  MANY do, as doctors who treat the vaccine injuries in autism have known by both research and behaviors that methylcobalamin treats the actual causes of dysfunction.

As the autism epidemic grows, so does the ability to market it while continually avoiding it's cause.  Here are recent examples of the big money research coming out of the horrific numbers of autism- "Drugmakers dance with autism"  (HERE)    and this one, not shy about its purpose - "Epidemiology: Autism Spectrum Disorders"   (HERE) : "Gain insight to market potential, including a robust 10-year epidemiology forecast of autism spectrum disorder prevalent cases."

Disturbing on many levels. We have seen research ignore and deny and some of the loudest deniers of vaccine injury causing autism have been those who profit: Offit Cashes In: Closing the Books on the Vaccine Profits of a Merck-Made Millionaire (HERE)  Another vocal denier who profits, shown by Jake Crosby, here at Age of Autism : "David Gorski’s Financial Pharma Ties: What He Didn’t Tell You"   (HERE)   What makes this interesting and relevant are these two paragraghs:

"Three years ago in another cancer (melanoma), Dr. Gorski's collaborators found that glutamate might have a role in promoting the transformation of the pigmented cells in the skin (melanocytes) into the deadly skin cancer melanoma. More importantly for therapy, it was found that this protein can be blocked with drugs, and, specifically, in melanoma cell lines and tumor models of melanoma using a drug originally designed to treat ALS and already FDA-approved for that indication (Riluzole) can inhibit the growth of melanoma.”

Also, according to the Gorski lab, “Our second area of interest is the role of metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) in breast cancer,” which relates directly to the therapy linking the use of Riluzole to breast cancer treatment. However, the description concludes, “In addition, we have noted that mGluR1 is expressed on vascular endothelial cells and have preliminary evidence that its inhibition is also antiangiogenic, thus linking our laboratory’s two interests and suggesting a broader application for metabotropic glutamate receptor targeting in cancer therapy.” In other words, David Gorski’s entire research focus, including a patent still listed in his name for which he admits receiving drug company money, ties into finding new uses for a drug made by Sanofi-Aventis, while the university housing his lab is in partnership with the company."

I have reported on melanin/pigmetary issues and even brought up families that had both autism and melanoma here-  (HERE)   Since patents and pharmaceutical companies seem to be part of Dr. Gorski's collaborations, his vocally denying vaccine injuries in autism should be no surprise. Exposing those who deny and obfuscate vaccines in the plight of so many sick children has become very important as they truly stand in the way of STOPPING the epidemic and instead DENY its cause and the safe treatments, like vitamins, minerals, diets, and detoxification. Glutamate is considered a toxin. Researching its involvement in autism should lead back to the cause of autism and not to the bank.

 Teresa Conrick is Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.

Posted by Age of Autism at March 30, 2011 at 5:45 AM in Teresa Conrick Permalink

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