Prenatal Origins of ASD: The When, What, and How of ASD Development

Published on Apr 15, 2020in Trends in Neurosciences12.891
· DOI :10.1016/J.TINS.2020.03.005
Eric Courchesne116
Estimated H-index: 116
(UCSD: University of California, San Diego),
Vahid H. Gazestani10
Estimated H-index: 10
(UCSD: University of California, San Diego),
Nathan E. Lewis44
Estimated H-index: 44
(UCSD: University of California, San Diego)
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a largely heritable, multistage prenatal disorder that impacts a child’s ability to perceive and react to social information. Most ASD risk genes are expressed prenatally in many ASD-relevant brain regions and fall into two categories: broadly expressed regulatory genes that are expressed in the brain and other organs, and brain-specific genes. In trimesters one to three (Epoch-1), one set of broadly expressed (the majority) and brain-specific risk genes disrupts cell proliferation, neurogenesis, migration, and cell fate, while in trimester three and early postnatally (Epoch-2) another set (the majority being brain specific) disrupts neurite outgrowth, synaptogenesis, and the ‘wiring’ of the cortex. A proposed model is that upstream, highly interconnected regulatory ASD gene mutations disrupt transcriptional programs or signaling pathways resulting in dysregulation of downstream processes such as proliferation, neurogenesis, synaptogenesis, and neural activity. Dysregulation of signaling pathways is correlated with ASD social symptom severity. Since the majority of ASD risk genes are broadly expressed, many ASD individuals may benefit by being treated as having a broader medical disorder. An important future direction is the noninvasive study of ASD cell biology.
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