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A Study Of Nuclear Transcription Factor-Kappa B In Childhood Autism

U. Naik, C. Gangadharan, Kanakalatha Abbagani, Balakrishna Nagalla, Niranjan Dasari, S. Manna
Published 2011 · Biology, Medicine
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Background Several children with autism show regression in language and social development while maintaining normal motor milestones. A clear period of normal development followed by regression and subsequent improvement with treatment, suggests a multifactorial etiology. The role of inflammation in autism is now a major area of study. Viral and bacterial infections, hypoxia, or medication could affect both foetus and infant. These stressors could upregulate transcription factors like nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB), a master switch for many genes including some implicated in autism like tumor necrosis factor (TNF). On this hypothesis, it was proposed to determine NF-κB in children with autism. Methods Peripheral blood samples of 67 children with autism and 29 control children were evaluated for NF-κB using electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA). A phosphor imaging technique was used to quantify values. The fold increase over the control sample was calculated and statistical analysis was carried out using SPSS 15. Results We have noted significant increase in NF-κB DNA binding activity in peripheral blood samples of children with autism. When the fold increase of NF-κB in cases (n = 67) was compared with that of controls (n = 29), there was a significant difference (3.14 vs. 1.40, respectively; p<0.02). Conclusion This finding has immense value in understanding many of the known biochemical changes reported in autism. As NF-κB is a response to stressors of several kinds and a master switch for many genes, autism may then arise at least in part from an NF-κB pathway gone awry.
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