Seizures that occur during the early life of an individual play a key role in switching synapses across the brain networks in autistic individuals. Seizures are also seen to cause neurodevelopmental delays in young people with autism and other related conditions.
The study gains prior importance due to highlighting the relationship between the targeted therapies that are carried out that are also responsible in keeping the synapse ‘mute’ to allow the brain region to develop and function at normal levels during the course of an individual’s life.
These synapse’ are seen to get active in the course of time. However, the removal of reservoirs of these underlying synapses results in decreased capacities in later learning stages of a persons’ life.
Epilepsy seizures have always been linked to brain-related disorders, including but not limited to, autism condition. More than 40 percent of young children diagnosed with autism condition have also epilepsy in parallel.
Nevertheless, the underlying relationship between autism and epilepsy has not been completely understood. Researchers highlight early developments of human brain involve series of critical periods with large numbers of synapses tied to language capabilities and learning skills that gradually progress over a period of time.
Seizures also end up giving rise to cognition and learning issues. The severity of seizures is largely dependent on how they affect during the important phase of brain development.
Frances E. Jensen, senior author and MD from the Neurological department in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania comments, “It is important to understand the synaptic changes that follow the seizures given an opportunity to find an alternative treatment that can help one decoding the seizures.”
Frances further explains, “Nevertheless, the timing factor also has an important role to play and is equally important. We need to ensure brain development is not hindered the first time when the seizures appear that can help one reduce the severity of future impairments.”
As per the data available with Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every 68 children is affected by autism condition in the US alone. The numbers are believed to be much higher if the global count in taken into consideration.
More than 35 percent of young children with infantile spasms are observed to develop long-term intellectual disabilities such as autism condition during the course of their lives.
In a bid to get deeper insights, the researchers proceeded to induce artificially engineered seizures in mice using pentylenetetrazol or PTZ injections and applied voltage-sensitive dye imaging technique to visualize, monitor and measure brain activities.
The researchers further investigated the cause of AMPA receptors and their cause on synapses to understand the neuronal reactions in hippocampus regions.
NBQX treatments were seen to reduce AMPA receptor enhancements in seizure-induced mice while successfully restoring synaptic plasticity during the important phase of brain development. Further, the mice that were injected with saline post seizures were seen to showcase impaired synaptic plasticity that was consistent with prior observations in place.
The new findings highlight an underlying mechanism between seizures and cognitive impairments.
Jensen comments, “This synaptic plasticity is a dynamic target to treat autism condition and other related conditions that accompany life-seizures.”