Role of “love hormone” and fresh infant food in autism and allergy


Adding to thirty years of research, scientists have discovered a potential role and mode of action of oxytocin, a naturally occuring brain hormone commonly called the “love hormone”. Neuropsychopharmacologists study the effect of chemicals in the brain and behavior. A team consisting of Dr. Tsien (Stanford University, CA), his graduate student Scott Owen, Dr. Gord Fischell (NYU Langone Medical Center, NY), his graduate student Sebnem Tuncdemir, and collaborators Patrick Bader, and Natasha Tirko resolved how oxytocin increases signaling to neurons and published their findings online on August 4, in the Journal Nature. This hormone can quiet background noise and enhance brain circuits. Individuals with autism lack the ability to filter desirable information processing signals. How this hormone can modulate fast spiking interneurons will continue to be researched, in addition to it’s therapeutic potential in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). To read the original article in nature click here.

…Neuromodulatory control by oxytocin is essential to a wide range of social1, 2, parental3 and stress-related behaviours4. Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are associated with deficiencies in oxytocin levels5 and with genetic alterations of the oxytocin receptor (OXTR)6. Thirty years ago, Mühlethaler et al.7 found that oxytocin increases the firing of inhibitory hippocampal neurons, but it remains unclear how elevated inhibition could account for the ability of oxytocin to improve information processing in the brain….

Research in repetitive behavior in ASD
With rising rates of autism spectrum disorder, especially among boys, there is a sense of urgency to find answers. We must not ignore the years of research effort by countless scientists working on how to reduce repetitive behaviors in individuals in the autism spectrum. For example, a 2003 article in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology was published by a team of Neuropsychopharmacologists suggested

….Repetitive behavior in autism spectrum disorders may be related to abnormalities in the oxytocin system, and may be partially ameliorated by synthetic oxytocin infusion…

which you can click here to read.  The problem lies in the fact that a cure is still elusive.  Some parents find that keeping individuals with ASD active in a repetitive sport helps ease the symptom of repetitive behavior, with a regulated repetitive movement resulting in enjoyment rather than frustration. However, it is a challenge getting an ASD individual to concentrate on such a sport.

Role of a love hormone in ASD
Why is it called the “love hormone”? Several articles explain that which you might enjoy reading in eurekalert, by Craig Andrews, by clicking here. What is the role of this hormone in conception to pregnancy and how is it involved in autism spectrum disorder? Researchers will labor on to find the answers.

Role of infant food in allergy
With the observation that certain diets reduce the risk of allergy in infants, one begins to wonder about the role of introduction of chemicals during conception and pregnancy that might interfere with hormones like the love hormone involved in development of normal brain circuits. To read the article on role of processed food and infant allergy click here by the scientist Kate Grimshaw (University of Southampton, UK).  In this article, the scientist published results of research on correlation between infant dietary pattern in first year of infancy and development of food allergy by age two.  Babies brought up on fresh food, presented lower allergy rates.

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