Neurodegenerative Diseases pp 91-98
Epigenetics in Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Diseases
Autism was previously thought to be caused by environmental factors. However, genetic factors are now considered to be more contributory to the pathogenesis of autism, based on the recent findings of mutations in the genes which encode synaptic molecules associated with the communication between neurons. Epigenetic is a mechanism that controls gene expression without changing DNA sequence but by changing chromosomal histone modifications and its abnormality is associated with several neurodevelopmental diseases. Since epigenetic modifications are known to be affected by environmental factors such as nutrition, drugs and mental stress, autistic diseases are not only caused by congenital genetic defects, but may also be caused by environmental factors via epigenetic mechanism. In this chapter, we introduce autistic diseases caused by epigenetic failures and discuss epigenetic changes by environmental factors and discuss new treatments for neurodevelopmental diseases based on the recent epigenetic findings.
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