Myelin loss may explain how autism-linked DNA deletion affects cognition

Myelin loss may explain how autism-linked DNA deletion affects cognition

Mice that lack one copy of TBX1, a gene in the autism-linked 22q11.2 chromosomal region, produce too little myelin — the fatty insulation that surrounds neurons — and perform poorly on tasks that measure cognitive speed, according to a new study. The work, published 5 November in Molecular Psychiatry , may offer insight into the mechanisms that underlie impaired cognitive function in some people with a 22q11.2 deletion , and possibly other copy number variants (CNVs). “The myelin changes could potentially emerge as a common neuronal deficit that mediates cognitive changes among many CNV cases,” says lead investigator Noboru Hiroi , professor of pharmacology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Neuronal axons — the projections that conduct nerve impulses — are coated with myelin, which serves to speed up electrical transmission. The brains of autistic people and several mouse models of autism have disruptions in myelin , previous research has shown. These connecting fibers are the “highways of the brain,” says Valerie Bolivar , research scientist at the New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center in Albany. “If the highway doesn’t work, you can’t get your goods from one place to another as […]

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